It is thanks to your bargaining power that you can access better working conditions. What can you gain? This will depend on the demands made by postdocs at your university and on the outcome of negotiations (for details, see Drawing up a collective agreement). Pending your first collective agreement, the example of research associates at McGill University provides an overview of possible gains.

Why take the example of research associates at McGill?

The professional reality of these research associates is similar to that of postdocs: associates have a PhD degree and they are usually hired on contract as well as remunerated from the university’s research funds. Their first collective agreement, signed in April 2013, procured the following gains:


  • Establishment of a minimum salary
    Previously, nearly a third of research associates earned less than this minimum.
  • Introduction of a salary scale (starting in June 2015)
    This scale comprises an annual increase of 2.5%, is based on objective criteria, and takes research funding cycles into account.


  • Mandatory posting of vacant positions
    Job posting makes it easier for associates to look for new contracts.
  • Establishment of an availability list
    Associates whose contracts are not renewed may place their name on this list and thus maintain their employment ties with the university for up to six months, during which time they are informed by e-mail of vacant positions prior to posting.


  • Six additional paid holidays during the Christmas period
    These new holidays, while the university is closed, are in addition to the eight statutory holidays.
  • Longer vacations
    Associates with one to three years of service get three weeks of vacation instead of two.


  • Establishment of a grievance procedure
    A clear procedure is established to settle disputes relative to the implementation or interpretation of the collective agreement (disputes of this kind are called “grievances”).