AMPL is an association of tenured and tenure-track professors from McGill’s Faculty of Law. AMPL’s mission is to strengthen our faculty’s ability to govern itself collectively, collegially, and independently. AMPL’s mandate includes the following:
- To be an independent and collective voice of faculty, allowing members to shape decisions concerning our academic mission within the faculty of teaching, research and service;
- To promote a positive and encouraging working environment for academic staff, students, administrative staff and our wider community;
- To improve transparency of decision-making within the faculty;
- To support our faculty’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion;
- To support our faculty’s commitment to indigenous initiatives;
- To provide appropriate representation for any member of AMPL who requires it; and
- To obtain certification as our faculty members’ exclusive bargaining unit and negotiate the first-ever collective agreement between McGill faculty and McGill.
The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), the Fédération québécoise de professeures et professeurs d’université (FQPPU), and the many unions already established at McGill are supporting AMPL as it defends itself in litigation against McGill’s efforts to deny AMPL’s certification.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why have professors at the Faculty of Law decided to form their own association and seek certification?
The right to organize and bargain collectively is an internationally recognized human right and is constitutionally guaranteed. The Supreme Court of Canada has made clear that that s. 2(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms “guarantees the right of employees to meaningfully associate in the pursuit of collective workplace goals… This guarantee includes a right to collective bargaining.” Professors at the Faculty of Law have come to the conclusion that we wish to pursue our collective workplace goals by exercising our constitutional rights, seeing as the McGill Association of University Teachers (MAUT) is not authorized to engage in collective bargaining.
We do not claim to speak for professors across the campus. We have concluded, based on our own faculty’s experience, that centralization of governance at McGill threatens to undermine decentralized collegial governance that in the past had characterized McGill University. Indeed, over time MAUT has defended decentralized collegial governance and the specificity and distinctness of all the faculties and other units that make up our diverse and intellectually rich campus. But MAUT was not even consulted let alone heeded when the administration imposed a pandemic policy against which members of our Faculty and experts from the School of Public and Global Heath raised deep concerns. This situation among others demonstrated to colleagues at the Law Faculty that we need collective bargaining to counter the unilateral imposition of rules on our specific teaching program and research pursuits. Each faculty at McGill is distinctive. The teaching in each faculty is distinctive. While we have some professors appointed to more than one faculty, professors are not generally interchangeable between faculties. Law professors generally cannot teach the sciences or engineering, and vice verse. The Faculty of Law is distinctive, with a common intellectual project we have forged and of which we are rightly proud. Furthermore, we are subject to external accreditation standards for law faculties and significant obligations identified in the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, obligations directed to law faculties alone. Thus, given that McGill is a non-unionized setting as concerns full-time professors, we have decided to seek the protection of collective bargaining on our own.
Where else in Canada are there universities with individual faculties that are unionized?
We draw inspiration from the Osgoode Hall Faculty Association, which is the union representing professors at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. It co-exists with the York University Faculty Association. Both are CAUT members.
We also draw inspiration from the Association des ingénieurs-professeurs en sciences appliquées which represents professors at the Faculty of Engineering of the Université of Sherbrooke and is a member of the FQPPU alongside the Syndicat des professeures et professeurs de l’Université de Sherbrooke. Similarly, the Association des professeurs de l’École Polytechnique de Montréal represents the school of engineering of Université de Montréal and is an FQPPU member alongside the Syndicat général des professeurs et professeures de l’Université de Montréal.
There are a number of other universities with multiple associations that are CAUT members:
- McMaster – the McMaster University Faculty Association (non-certified) and the McMaster University Academic Librarians’ Association (certified) – at one point the CUPE contract lecturers’ union was also a member
- Toronto – University of Toronto Faculty Association and CUPE 3902 representing contract academic workers.
- Memorial – Memorial University Faculty Association and the Lecturer’s Union of Memorial University (with a likely application from the Marine Institute Faculty Association of Memorial University of Newfoundland)
- Dalhousie/St. Mary’s/Mount Saint Vincent – The Faculty Associations and CUPE 3912 representing contract academic worker.
- Concordia – Concordia University Faculty Association and the Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association
What is the experience with collective bargaining in those contexts?
We understand that the experience has been beneficial for all faculty concerned. The parallel associations are able to benchmark their collective agreements against each other and pursue common objectives as they arise. To quote from the Osgoode Hall Faculty Association website: “We also maintain a close relationship with the York University Faculty Association, which for many years has contributed indirectly to protecting the terms and conditions of employment of Osgoode faculty.”
If AMPL were certified how would committee representation and input on policies work?
AMPL would review and possibly seek to modify McGill University policies in negotiating a collective agreement. To the degree those policies are covered by the collective agreement, we would no longer be subject to McGill regulations (the employment regulations generally, including the grievance procedure, appointments and tenure, retirement, dismissal, terms and conditions of employment, leaves, sabbaticals, intellectual property, compensation, benefits). Thus, there would be no issue about AMPL sitting on every committee with MAUT and co-writing every policy. We would negotiate our own collective agreement in consultation with MAUT. Thus, for example, MAUT has been unable to date to have an independent arbitration procedure included in the employment regulations. By law, by virtue of certification, AMPL would enjoy the benefit of an independent arbitration procedure, and we hope that MAUT could then benchmark the university’s employment regulations against that outcome.
Beyond what is in the collective agreement, matters would remain within the purview of our Faculty Council and the Senate. At York, for example, there has been no difficulty in coordinating university committees so as to have members of the law faculty named to them.
If AMPL were certified, how would non-unionized Faculty members benefit from the collective agreement with AMPL?
Where more than one unionized faculty association exists it is possible for those associations to coordinate and to benchmark their bargaining positions against the results of the other agreements and thus ratchet up improvements in working conditions. If anything, MAUT, as a non-certified association, is likely to benefit more directly from the presence of AMPL as the certified bargaining agent of the Faculty of Law. if only to try to avoid further unionization, the University is likely to offer whatever is achieved by AMPL to MAUT and perhaps even to sweeten the deal. We would be pleased if the collective bargaining for our faculty in this way produces a tide that lifts other boats.