On March 14, 2014, the university met with McGill course lecturers and instructors in the presence of a government-appointed conciliator. The university presented its counterproposal on items still to be negotiated – including monetary items – in response to the counterproposal submitted by the union a month earlier, at which time, the union had maintained its position on all unresolved items. Also in February, the union had asked the conciliator for negotiations to move to arbitration.
Highlights of McGill’s proposals:
- A salary increase of $800, bringing lecturers’ contracts to $8,000 to be implemented over a 3-year period
- Establishment of a priority list for the allocation of courses, based on a system of accumulated points for each 3-credit course taught
- Loss of accumulated points when a course lecturer does not teach for 6 consecutive sessions
- A course lecturer can teach a maximum of 2 courses per session and 5 courses per year
- Offer to sign a 3-year collective agreement, which is the maximum allowed for a first collective agreement
The union rejected the university’s counteroffer presented at the March meeting, without making any further offers on the unresolved issues.
Considering the impasse between the parties, the conciliator can now file a report to the government recommending that the matter be submitted to first contract arbitration. Once appointed to the file, the arbitrator will need time to review what the parties have agreed upon, understand the parties’ respective position, hear both parties on each unresolved item and make a determination as to the content of this collective agreement. This process can be lengthy.
It should be noted that current working conditions will remain until a collective agreement is signed. According to Québec law, union members are not permitted to engage in pressure tactics once their first collective agreement has been submitted to arbitration.
The parties started negotiating in June 2012. In October 2013, the course lecturers’ bargaining unit broke away from AGSEM, the union representing teaching assistants and invigilators, to form its own union. The parties have been negotiating in conciliation since October 2013.