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Tribune explains: Unions and associations at McGill

McGill employs over 12,500 staff across its two campuses. There are fourteen unions and two associations that represent, support, and advocate for part- and full-time, academic and non-academic employees of the university. 

What are unions and associations?

Unions bring workers together to hear their concerns and advocate for better working conditions. They negotiate collective agreements (CAs) with employers that outline the specific terms of employment; for example, CAs often spell out regulations surrounding pay scales, benefits, health and safety of workers, and discrimination. Similarly, associations bring members together to try to better working conditions and advocate for their members, but generally have less bargaining power than unions. Both unions and associations typically elect their leadership.

Unions at McGill

The Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill (AGSEM)

AGSEM has two units, one representing invigilators and another representing teaching assistants (TAs). Each unit has its own CA with the university. AGSEM was accredited in 1993, making it the oldest TA union in Quebec. The union was certified to represent invigilators in 2010. It is currently pushing for better working conditions and pay for TAs—who they claim are overworked and underpaid by the university. The most recent CA for TAs expired at the end of July, and negotiations for a new contract are underway between AGSEM and the university.

The Association of McGill University Research Employees (AMURE)

AMURE represents postdoctoral fellows and research associates and assistants at the university. AMURE was accredited to represent research associates and assistants in 2010 and signed the first CA for research associates and assistants with the university in 2013. The union was accredited to represent postdoctoral fellows in 2015, and the first CA for postdoctoral fellows was signed in 2017. 

The Association of McGill University Support Employees (AMUSE)

AMUSE represents floor fellows and non-academic casuals at McGill. The union was certified to represent non-academic casuals—part-time, non-academic McGill workers—in 2010, and was later certified to represent floor fellows in 2014. Both CAs are set to expire in 2025. In March 2023, McGill decided to reduce the size of Floor Fellows’ accommodations, citing increased demand for housing. This announcement led to backlash from the union, which believes this is a breach of the floor fellows’ CA and has filed a grievance against the university.

The McGill Course Lecturers and Instructors Union (MCLIU)

MCLIU represents course lecturers and instructors at the university. The union was accredited in 2011 as a third unit of AGSEM, but broke away and was re-certified in 2013. It ratified its first CA in 2015. The second MCLIU CA expired in August 2022, and negotiations are currently underway to sign a new one. 

The McGill University Non-­Academic Certified Association (MUNACA

MUNACA represents clerical staff, laboratory and IT technicians, support staff, and library assistants at the university. The union was accredited in 1994. The current CA will expire in May 2024.

Service Employees Union Local 800 (SEU)

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) represents over two million service employees globally. SEU Local 800, a member of the SEIU, represents service employees throughout Quebec, including some at McGill. Data Centre employees, Faculties Management and Ancillary Services employees, Powerhouse employees on the downtown campus, Printing Services employees, Trades employees at the downtown campus, and Trades and Powerhouse employees at the Macdonald campus are all unionized, and each group has its own CA with the university.

The Association of McGill Professors of Law (AMPL)

AMPL, the first professors’ union at McGill, was certified in late 2022 after an extensive push from professors in the Faculty of Law. The new union is currently facing litigation from the university and has not yet signed its first collective agreement.

Associations at McGill

McGill Association of University Teachers (MAUT)

MAUT is a voluntary association that represents non-unionized teaching staff at the university. Founded in 1951, their website states that it works to engage faculty in the governance process, “foster academic freedom,” and better working conditions.

McGill University Non-Academic Staff Association (MUNASA)

MUNASA is a voluntary association that represents non-unionized non-academic staff at McGill. It was created in 1972 and amended after MUNACA was formed to represent management staff.

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