FAQ

Union Membership
Financial Questions
Post-Docs
Pay and Benefits
Termination
Health and Safety
Grievances
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Union Membership

What are benefits to researchers all having one union?

There are a lot of different local unions around Quebec and Canada that use this model. The main benefit is the unification of resources, both monetary and human. With one union, there is one executive and one bank account for all the members, which results in lower costs. Every group has its own collective agreement. The benefit is in the everyday work of the union. All the negotiations with the administration, all the office work, all the relations with PSAC, all the mobilization, etc, do not need to be duplicated.

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Can I be blacklisted/get in trouble with my employer if I become a member of AMURE?

Not to worry! As the union is recognized by the Labour Board of Québec, every research associate and research assistant is automatically member of AMURE, so you will not be singled out for your membership in AMURE. Furthermore, if you signed a union membership form during the union drive in 2010, it was totally anonymous and the employer will never have the right to see who signed and who don’t. The labor code strictly forbids it.

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Why are Research Associates, Research Assistants, and Post-Docs part of the same union?

When the union drive was on, all the research employees were to be in the same bargaining group. When PSAC (that’s the Public Service Alliance of Canada, of which AMURE is a member) sent the unionization request to the labor board, McGill was opposed to both groups being part of a same bargaining group. They asked that both groups be separated, and PSAC accepted this proposal. In this case, the research associates group was already in a situation of majority, which means that more than 50% of all research associates had signed a PSAC union card during the drive. This part of AMURE was recognized “on the spot” (July 2010) by the labor board. The research assistants had to pass by a referendum to be recognized. They won this referendum in November 2010. Post-docs joined later, in 2015. Although the three job classes all fall under AMURE, the union is composed of three different bargaining units that fight for the rights of each job class.

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Am I a Casual or Regular Research Assistant?

Casuals and Regulars have different rights under the Collective Agreement, which means it’s important to know which job class your position falls under. Your job classification should be clearly listed in your employment contract.

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Does being unionized automatically mean that we will go on strike?

No. A strike is the last resort. A very low percentage of collective bargaining processes end with a strike, and there are a lot of steps that need to be taken before even thinking about going on strike. Nonetheless, if we don’t encounter openness at the negotiation table, we need to keep this door open in order to be taken seriously by the administration. However, a democratic vote is always necessary to proceed down this path.

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Is union membership compulsory?

Yes. As the union is been recognized by the labour board, meaning that a majority of us decided to sign a card or to vote for it in a referendum, it now represents every research employee at McGill (excluding Academic Associates).  However, to be a “regular member”, you need to sign a card. You can do this by printing off the membership form linked to here and submitting it using your work email or a personal email that uses your real name to sean.cory@aerum-amure.ca; dropping it off in person (come say hi!) at 517, avenue des Pins, or attending an AGM.

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Are union fees compulsory?

Yes. The reasoning behind this is based on a court decision by Judge Rand in the 1950s. Judge Rand was concerned about the implications of multiple unions wanting to represent the same workers, and decided that only one union would represent all the workers in a particular job, and that all those workers were to pay union dues as they all benefit from the collective agreement the union negotiates.

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Can AMURE mediate in research-related ethical conflicts e.g. publications, credits, patents?

This kind of thing can be negotiated. However, those issues are very sensitive, and we might not reach the perfect agreement on it the first time. In the end, it is only the willingness of our members that will make the difference.

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Will I completely be governed by AMURE collective agreement in reaching an alternate work agreement with my immediate supervisor?

If you are working as a research associate, research assistant, or post-doc, yes. The collective agreement negotiated between us and McGill is considered a legal document that binds its members.

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How can I participate in AMURE?

There are many different ways! The first and most important one is to come to general assemblies, as this is the place where we discuss union matters and take major decisions, such as amendments to our by-laws. If you’re interested in getting more involved, you can get involved on the executive or Board in different elected positions. Finally, you can offer your time to do specific tasks, like mobilization, writing an article for the website, etc. We would love to have you!

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Financial Questions

How are the fees collected by AMURE used?

Dues are decided at AMURE’s general assembly. For the moment, they are set at 0.6%, as decided in the March 2016 assembly. Any change to dues must be approved by the general assembly.

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Pay Equity

As a result of the 2010 Pay Equity decision, Regular Research Assistants are owed a raise, in addition to being owed a retroactive raise of around 30%. McGill is pushing to delay the pay equity adjustment payments indefinitely by refusing to pay until all complaints surrounding the pay equity decision are resolved with the commission, including more than 30 complaints not related to research assistants. We are grieving this (i.e. filing a formal complaint), and we will keep you posted as the situation unfolds. Meanwhile, the 2015 Pay Equity filing is underway.

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Post-Docs

Post-Docs

Do you know that since June of 2015, you have been members of AMURE, with all the support and benefits that entails? Eligible postdocs include those whose remuneration comes from funds administered by the university, for example, research grants received by a professor, amounts paid to a professor under research contracts from the private sector, or any financial assistance granted to the university or to any of its units to support research. Bargaining for post-docs is taking place right now, making this the perfect time for you to get involved and have a say in your labour rights. If you would like to be part of the bargaining committee, please contact sean.cory@aerum-amure.ca.

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Pay and Benefits

Can I carry over my vacation from year to year?

No, vacation must be used in the year it is given and cannot be carried over to the next year. If you leave McGill, however, you can take all the vacation you have earned but not yet taken.

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Can I receive leave for personal reasons?

Yes, AMURE members can receive paid leave for a number of personal situations, including bereavement (1-6 days), marriage (5 days if yours, 1 day if that of a relative), moving (1 day), legal duties (length of your participation), other personal reason (2 days).

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What is the minimum wage for casual research assistants?

In our collective agreement we negotiated yearly raises for all casual research assistants and a premium for graduate students.

Undergraduate Students

After June 1, 2014: $12.70
After June 1, 2015: $12.91

Graduate Students

After June 1, 2014: $13.97
After June 1, 2015: $14.90

In addition, you will receive 4% additional compensation for holidays (6% if you have worked as a casual research assistant for more than 5 years).

Finally, regardless of your pay rate, all casual research assistants are entitled to a yearly raise of 1.7% for the duration of their contracts.

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What benefits am I eligible for?

As per our collective agreement, AMURE members may be eligible for a number of benefits, including a supplemental health plan, a dental plantuition waiverseducational assistance programs, a group life insurance plan, a long-term and short-term disability plan, and a pension plan. These benefits are not available to all job classes.

All of these programs and benefits are controlled by McGill and can change from time to time. We recommend that you familiarize yourself with the provisions by visiting the websites linked above for each program as well as http://www.mcgill.ca/hr/bp/benefits

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What should I do if I am sick?

Our collective agreement does not include a maximum number of sick days. If you are sick you simply need to notify your Research Director and you will not have any loss in salary.

If you are sick for more than two consecutive days then the short-term disability plan will cover your salary. You will need to have a physician complete a statement of disability to receive this benefit.

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What if I have work-related expenses that require reimbursement?

As per article 18 of our collective agreement, to be eligible for reimbursement work-related expenses must be pre-approved by your supervisor and, once the request is filed, must be reimbursed by McGill within 40 business days.

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Can McGill block a raise or bonus?

No. Your supervisor, at his or her discretion, can give you a larger raise than that required by the collective agreement or a retention bonus. This is entirely at the discretion of your research supervisor, and should not be blocked by McGill.

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How much vacation time am I eligible for?

Your length of employment at McGill as of 1 June of a given year determines how much vacation you are eligible for. The amount of vacation you receive is as follows: Less than 1 year — 1/4 week for each month of service. Between 1 and 3 years — 3 weeks vacation. Between 3 and 7 years — 4 weeks. More than seven years — 5 weeks. In lieu of vacation time, casual research assistants receive a 4% pay premium, raised to 6% after 5 years of employment at McGill.

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Termination

Will AMURE help if I lose my job for unjustified reasons?

If you feel that your employment has been terminated unjustly, please contact us to see if it will be possible to file a grievance.

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What are the procedures if my employment is terminated?

I f McGill wishes to not renew your contract or terminate your employment, you must be notified in a letter signed by your Research Director. The length of notice is determined by your length of employment at McGill.

Less than one year – 2 weeks notice. Between 1 and 3 years – 4 weeks notice. Between 3 and 5 years – 6 weeks notice. More than 5 years – 8 weeks notice.

Notice is not required if your letter of appointment states that your appointment is not subject to renewal, you are terminated for disciplinary reasons, or you lose the professional accreditation needed for your position.

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Health and Safety

What are my rights with regard to health and safety?

Article 17 of AMURE’s collective agreement covers the health and safety requirements for our members’ workplaces. Article 17.01 states that McGill and AMURE have a responsibility to ensure the highest possible standards of health and safety at work in order to prevent occupational mishaps and injuries. Furthermore, the Loi la santé et sécurité du travail and the Loi sure les accidents du travail et les maladies professionnelles state that every employee in Quebec has a right to a workplace free of physical and psychological harm. As an employer, McGill is required to meet these expectations.

AMURE is here to make sure that the conditions that our research assistants and associates are working in meet these expectations. Our Health & Safety Representative Isabelle Gamache has been appointed to deal with issues related to your workplace and to serve as a delegate on the University Health and Safety Committee. If you are a research employee who has experienced unsafe situations in your workplace, we encourage you to get in touch with us.

Please contact Isabelle Gamache at health.safety@aerum-amure.ca

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Workplace Injuries

Worker’s compensation covers everything to do with work and health. This legal insurance, which you pay into, kicks in from the moment you are hired, and lasts forever. It protections range from slipping on the ice in the parking lot of your office, to developing a sore back from lousy chairs. It also covers mental health – including anxiety or depression for miserable conditions. Most importantly, the law is not just about paid recovery time; it opens up a range of free resources for employees to help them recover – from acupuncture to ergonomic assessments, even psychology.

If an incident occurs, or if you notice a condition, you can apply to the CSST for assistance. If an accident occurs, make sure your boss fills out an incident report (this is not required, but helpful). For injuries developed over time (depression, back pain, eye strain, etc), this step is irrelevant. Then, talk to the union. It is good to get us involved asap! You’ll need to visit you GP (doctor). This person has been trained in the basics of the application process. She or he will provide you with a special CSST medical report (it is free) explaining your injury or condition, the prognosis, and treatment. You’ll need to send that in to the CSST, who will then decide on your coverage. If they accept your claim, you can speak with them on treatment options, modified working conditions, medical leave and support. If you need to miss work because of an injury, but can’t get into a doctor for a few days, they can retroactively prescribe leave. The CSST covers the cost of treatment, missed work, and travel; however, sometimes they can be overly prudent. If they reject your claim, or deny coverage, talk to us. We have access to lawyers to help you out. A denied claim is not final!

For more information on workplace injuries and what qualifies, please check out our fact sheet!

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Grievances

What should I do if I have been treated unfairly or had my collective agreement rights violated by my supervisor or the university?

If you have experienced unfair treatment or our collective agreement has been violated by your supervisor or the university, you can file a grievance—a formal complaint under the collective agreement. Though the grievance procedure is complicated, AMURE can help you through it; our goal is to protect your rights. We recommend that you contact us as soon as possible, so that we can assist you.

Before you file an official grievance you are required to request an informal discussion with your supervisor. We recommend you make this request through email so that there is a record of it. Often grievances can be worked out much more quickly in this manner. If you would like support in this meeting, AMURE can send someone to accompany you.

Your supervisor is obligated to reply to your request within 10 business days. If the supervisor does not respond, or the informal meeting does not resolve the problem, you can file a formal grievance.

At this point, we ask that you contact AMURE so that our experienced staff can help you through the grievance procedure. It is imperative that you contact us as soon as possible, because there are a number of time limits on filing a grievance.

The entire grievance procedure is contained in section 11 of our collective agreement.

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Workplace Harassment

Under the Act respecting labour standards, you are protected against both psychological and sexual harassment in the workplace.

Psychological:

The Act respecting labour standards protects employees against psychological harassment by:

  • Giving employees the right to a workplace where there is no psychological harassment; and
  • Obliging employers to prevent psychological harassment and resolve situations of psychological harassment brought to their attention.

 For there to be psychological harassment, the behaviour must:

  • be vexatious and repeated, or vexatious and serious
  • be hostile or unwanted by the employee
  • affect the dignity or physical or psychological integrity of the employee
  • create a harmful work environment

If you feel that you are the victim of psychological harassment in your workplace, please contact the union for help.

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Sexual Harassment

You are protected against workplace sexual harassment by the Act respecting labour standards as well as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Workplace sexual harassment:

  • can be words, gestures, behaviour or physical contact of a sexual nature
  • usually occurs repeatedly, but can also be one serious incident
  • unwelcome by the person targeted, has a negative effect on the work environment, including a direct impact such as dismissal or disciplinary measures, or an indirect impact, such as an uncomfortable work environment

If you feel that you are the victim of sexual harassment in your workplace, please contact the union for help.

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Unsubscribe from Job Postings Email List

Unsubscribe from job postings email list

This might actually be our most frequently asked question! In June 2016, McGill implemented a listserv sending out job opportunities to members. While the implementation of this listserv had been negotiated by AMURE, it is administered through McGill Human Resources. We initially experienced an email storm as a number of people attempted to unsubscribe by hitting reply all, briefly flooding people’s inboxes. The technical problem was fixed, but we are still searching for an easy way for members to unsubscribe from the listserv. For now, your best bet is to manually block emails coming from AMURE_POSTINGS@LISTS.MCGILL.CA.

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