McGill, News

AMPL asserts Fall term in jeopardy as law professors reach an impasse with McGill

The Association of McGill Professors of Law (AMPL) met with McGill on June 7 as part of their ongoing collective agreement (CA) negotiations. The CA, which will set the terms of employment for tenured and tenure-track professors in the Faculty of Law, has been under negotiation for over 500 days—since the faculty first unionized in December 2022. Although the two parties came close to resolving several articles, they ultimately could not make any progress and cut the bargaining session short, having reached a stalemate. Without an agreement, AMPL continues its strike, which has been ongoing since April 24.

Kirsten Anker, Vice-President of AMPL, told The Tribune that the two parties failed to make progress on the CA because McGill insists on reserving the unilateral authority to change the terms of the contract after it’s been signed. Anker explained that the university wants to retain this right so it can keep policies consistent as it negotiates contracts with other faculty unions. Although Anker noted that the university is in a unique situation, she expressed frustration over McGill’s unwillingness to form a mutually binding agreement.

“It is unusual that a [CA] would contain such an ability,” Anker stated. “In our mind, it undermines the very nature of a [CA].”

McGill’s Media Relations Office declined to comment on the negotiations, but noted that the university is “preparing for the Fall term as usual.”

However,  with the next bargaining session scheduled for Aug. 19, several members of AMPL underlined that the Fall term could potentially be put in peril. Anker criticized the timeline of negotiations and urged McGill to come back to the bargaining table sooner. 

“One date over four months is not a sign of someone who’s serious about bargaining and reaching an agreement with us,” Anker said. “We are at risk of not being able to teach in the Fall. McGill is facing the situation of an academic year without a law faculty.”

Casey Broughton, 4L, underlined her support for the law professors and the strike, while noting that it has impacted her employment over the summer.

“My main income the previous two summers was from working as a research assistant on projects with professors,” Broughton said. “I am treading water at the moment, but I am finding it exceedingly difficult to find replacement work.”

Broughton also voiced concerns over a late start to the Fall semester and urged McGill to bargain in good faith. 

Evan Fox-Decent, AMPL’s President, echoed Broughton’s sentiment.

“All strikes are hard, and long strikes are especially hard on their participants,” Fox-Decent stated. “However, our colleagues are now closer than ever, through their participation together in a common struggle. We anxiously hope that McGill will return to the table to negotiate in good faith, so that the fall term may be saved.”

Anker emphasized that despite the gridlock of negotiations, AMPL is determined to form a mutually binding agreement with McGill, not just for the sake of law professors, but for the other faculty unions following in their footsteps. 
“We are small, but we’re also fighting on behalf of all the other faculties who will potentially unionize after us,” Anker said. “It will be very hard for McGill to avoid negotiating a collective agreement once we’ve established precedent. [McGill] know[s] it’s just the beginning of an avalanche.”

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