Relocation – what it means and how it works

Come to the first member lunch-and-learn session, Wednesday, November 26, 12-2 p.m., MUNACA office, 3483 Peel Street.

MUNACA VP Lynda Bray will talk about Relocation. Read David Roseman’s article and come with your lunch and questions!

Please note: this session is to educate members on our Collective Agreement and other labour issues. If you wish to discuss your personal situation, please contact a union steward.

Relocation

The application and theory behind Article 16 (Employment Security) in MUNACA’s collective agreement are quite straight-forward – assuming it is properly applied, of course.

When a member who has obtained job security is given notice that his or her position has been abolished, the University must find them another position with similar working conditions. The position may be at a lower salary level, but cannot be at a higher one without the member’s consent.

What does “similar working conditions” mean?

It means a position involving similar tasks and techniques (i.e., having similar requirements), similar working hours, as well as a similar physical environment.

How long does the University have to place me in a new position?

The University may place you in a position immediately upon notifying you of the abolition. There is no clear stipulation in the collective agreement on how long they have to place you in a position. If two months have elapsed, however, and the member still hasn’t been named to a position, the union would strongly encourage the member to contact the union in order to file a grievance. The University’s only excuse for a delay would be that there is absolutely no position available, which in an organization with 10,000 employees would be surprising, to say the least.

Will the University provide training?

The collective agreement only states that training will be given if it is “felt” necessary by the University. However, you can’t very well be expected to do a job for which you’ve not been trained.

Is there a trial period for the new position?

Yes, the default trial period of 30 working days applies for a position, unless otherwise stipulated. This means the member who has been placed in a position can also state that they don’t believe it is suitable for them, and request another posting.

If I’m relocated immediately, what does the “two months notice” then refer to?

Articles 13 and 14 state that the member has priority over both posted positions and temporary assignments. This means that you must be given priority for any position or assignment. Using this right is especially important in the event the University has not yet found you a suitable position.

Discussion and specific situations

One major problem we have with the application of this Article is that McGill no longer has a staffing department responsible for placing members. The University now informs the individual faculties that they must do this – as though it were the “price” faculties must pay for abolishing a position. Therefore, how a member is treated depends completely on how good a job the faculty does at finding him or her a new position.

There have been various members who have not been placed in positions at all, but just told they’re “floating.” In such cases, the union should be informed so that a grievance can be filed, stating that Article 16 is not being respected.

When members have been given a notice of abolition, the union always advises our members to be as proactive as possible and to look throughout McGill to find positions (temporary or permanent) to apply for in the hopes of increasing the likelihood of finding a more suitable position.

The University also sometimes places members in another position immediately upon giving the notice of abolition, which can, needless to say, prove to be very unsettling. In such cases, the member still must be given priority for vacant positions for two months following.

Paradoxically, the inverse situation has arisen in the Faculty of Arts. There, the union is contending that dozens of positions have in fact been abolished, while the University is claiming the opposite. The basis for the union’s position is that the recent reorganisation of positions not only changed the work to be done, but actually completely changed the departments to which members reported. Despite the employer’s claims to the contrary, what the union has seen in the Faculty of Arts is the abolition of positions and the subsequent placing of our members in new positions. Some positions closely resemble the previous positions, while others are quite different or completely unrelated.

Lab technicians face particular roadblocks that the University has put up to prevent them from obtaining appropriate positions. The University has converted most lab technician jobs into other categories, such as research assistant or “academic associate.” They are also hiring employees through the “Research Institute of the McGill University Hospital Centre”, and these positions are not posted through McGill. There are probably hundreds of research (as well as administrative) positions that have disappeared in this fashion. As a result, several of our lab technician members whose positions have come to an end have been placed into purely administrative positions, usually with little or no training, this despite the fact that McGill continues to employ many hundreds of laboratory workers.

For Cs or administrative workers, their problem is that hundreds of positions have been posted as “Ms” that rightfully should be in MUNACA, thus making these M posts unavailable to most of our members, and reducing the opportunity for movement or for placement.

David Roseman, Vice-President, Labour Relations

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