On The MUNACA Rally

The rally as seen from the Roddick Gates.

Friday, September 16th, there was a rally for MUNACA outside McGill. The portion of McGill College avenue closest to the university campus was closed off and totally filled with MUNACA members, AMURE members (another McGill union which officially supports MUNACA’s efforts in this negotiation,) students, and other faculty and staff who support the MUNACA strike. The rally was huge and, apparently, wildly successful.

The rally was centered around a podium on the West side of McGill College avenue, where various speakers voiced their support for the rally, including Outremont MP Thomas Mulcair – a McGill graduate. I’m not sure who was actually running the rally, but he played the accordion well and often, leading the crowd in quite a few protest songs (when it rained the other day, I believe the same guy was mouth-trumpeting “Singing in the Rain” over the loud speaker impressively well. It was epic.) I took a few pictures of the rally, which I’ll post below.

This week, apparently, was McGill’s Aboriginal Celebration week. The only aboriginal themed event that I saw happened on Friday, and was poorly advertised, if it was advertised at all. Aboriginal people always seem to get the short end of the stick, which is another infuriating issue all together, but I think it’s unfortunate that MUNACA’s rally upstaged the festivities for the Aboriginal Celebration week day. The only good thing about the unfortunate coincidence of the two events was that the apparent size of the MUNACA rally benefited from juxtaposition with the small celebration.

Since this is my third post on the subject of the strike, I feel I need to explain why I’ve been spending so much time on this issue. First, the Internet is a powerful tool. As I said in my last post, I can’t afford to not cross the picket line. However, I do have a blog that a few people read, so it seems that the best way for me to support the strike is to use my blog to get the word out. After all, that’s the most important part of non-violent protests: showing the world that you’re not being treated properly. Second, I think it’s important to tell McGill University and MUNACA how this is affecting the student population. We students have a fairly unique perspective on the strike, since we sort of straddle the world of the strike and the world on the inside, and I’d like to share that perspective with the world. I’ll get back to doing some more normal posts eventually, but I think it’s important to talk about this issue now.

Update: Thanks to a response to this post, I realized that I may not have made my position on the strike entirely clear. I suppose that’s because I haven’t been able to find much detail on the actual issues being debated, and as a result, I’m not quite sure where I stand on all the issues. However, I do support MUNACA and their strike. From what I’ve read of the main issues, I feel McGill is being unreasonable, and I think MUNACA was completely justified in calling a strike. My intention for this post was to provide a somewhat neutral description of the rally. For further details on how I feel about the strike, please read my most recent post about the strike, and my first post about the strike.

Regarding the Aboriginal Celebration, after thinking about the juxtaposition I mentioned, I think what makes it so fascinating to me is that the two groups were both being neglected by the McGill Administration: The Aboriginal Celebration Week only really lasted a few hours, and McGill won’t agree to a reasonable wage scale for MUNACA. I think it’s unfortunate that a possible opportunity to promote Aboriginal rights may have been lost, but I believe it was just an unfortunate scheduling coincidence. I’m glad that the rally got the turnout it did.

You can see the Aboriginal Celebration in the background of this picture; you can't see that its attendance pales in comparison to the attendance if the MUNACA rally.


7 thoughts on “On The MUNACA Rally

  1. I stumbled across your blog. While not a member of MUNACA, my spouse and many friends are. I can tell you with all confidence, that this strike is the straw that broke the camels back. It is unfortunate, but when people get pushed to their limits and are treated like second class citizens, this is the outcome.

    Your frustration should not be taken out on the good people that care not only for thei employ, but the students themselves. Many are also former stdents/graduates of McGill that chose to return to work.

    MUNACA wants to go back to work, and the more support (once getting informed of the issues from all sides and not just McGill) they have, the more likely McGill will finally negotiate in good faith.

    Best wishes and know that the goal is not to impede the students of McGill.

    • Thank you for your comment! I’m afraid I didn’t make myself clear. This post was meant to be read in the context of my two previous posts on the subject, in which I voiced my support for the MUNACA strike. I also have friends in MUNACA, and I hope, for their sake, that MUNACA’s demands are met. However, I am trying to stay relatively neutral on the issue as far as “the face I show the world” is concerned. It’s difficult to find an exhaustive list of the issues involved, and the positions of the University or MUNACA on those issues. I suspect that such a list does not exist for public consumption. As such, I haven’t been able to decide who I think “is right” as yet. On a level of emotion and prior experience with the McGill Administration, I support MUNACA whole heartedly. But on a factual level, I haven’t been able to find very much detail about the positions of McGill University or MUNACA. So this particular post was meant to simply report the events from a student’s perspective, from as neutral a vantage point as possible. I think I’ve missed my mark a bit, and I’ll try to tweak the post accordingly. I appreciate your feedback!

  2. I am a member of MUNACA and am on strike. I just came across your blog entry regarding the MUNACA rally a couple of weeks back, and wanted to mention that had I attended the First Nations festival only Because I was at the rally. I had wanted to see it last year, but missed it, and was happy that I was right there, saw the teepee past Roddick Gates, and recalled that the event happens every year. I agree that it isn’t never advertised very well, though the event itself is very small.

    I’ve only just read this blog entry so far, but I do appreciate the time you’ve taken to cover the issue and your unique view point as a student and your awareness of what is going on around you. If you’d like to keep yourself informed of MUNACA news, please visit our website, http://www.munaca.com, which has links to a Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.. It might be interesting to you to see the differences between what the McGill administration says is happening and what MUNACA says is happening.

  3. I am an ordinary MUNACA member.

    This is my personal understanding of issues behind the strike.

    MUNACA members are support workers at McGill University.
    Our job is to provide clerical, techical & library services for the entire
    university community – students, professors, administration, etc.

    Some of the issues behind the MUNACA strike

    !) Parity with other Montreal universities

    What does this mean ?

    People doing similar jobs at the 3 other Montreal universities DO have
    similar wage scales – on paper.
    That is they may start at $ 30,000 and reach a top salary of $ 40,000

    There is one small difference.
    At the other Montreal universities the number of years to go from starting
    salary to top of scale varies from 3 to 10 years.
    This is not negotiated or changed every time their union gets a contract.

    At McGill MUNACA has to negociate every contract how much closer an
    employee gets to the top of scale !

    In our last contract – it would have taken 37 years to get to top of scale.

    Of course the administration disagrees with MUNACA’s calculations.
    One OF THE McGill negociators said it would take ONLY 32 YEARS !

    MUNACA wants similar time frame so that our members
    do get to the top of their wage scale.

    The first offer from the university.
    That is no one not yet at the top of their wage scale would ever get there.

    2) Cost of living increase.
    McGill offered 1.2 % ( or 0.6 % + 0.6% to go up the wage scale)
    Currently cost of living is increasing at over 3%

    3) For all McGill employees with benefits (i.e. excluding casual employees)
    benefits were cut by over $ 1,000,000
    just a few weeks after MUNACA signed our last contract !
    At the other Montreal universities this would not, could not happen.
    There, all the labour associations, unions and the administration
    have to agree on changes to the benefits package.
    MUNACA members want their benefits protected from unilateral cuts
    by the administration.
    The professors’ association and the other unions at McGill
    SUPPORT this demand. They want this protection too !

    4) In July 2011 McGill announced they would no longer make employer
    contributions to the Quebec Pension Plan for employees
    between 65 & 70 years old continuing to work.

    Along with lower contributions during our work life (because MUNACA
    members & McGill do not make as many years contributions
    at the top of the wage scale)
    McGill pension are far lower than those other Montreal universities.

    See MUNACA’s site for McGills initial offer and
    to see MUNACA’sdemands.

    • Thank you very much for your comment, and for explaining the issues at hand in more detail! McGill’s suggestions and actions in this matter are, indeed, infuriating to say the least. I hope for a speedy and satisfactory resolution to the negotiations, and in the meantime, please know that you are supported by a large portion of the student body.

    • Thanks for letting me know. Unfortunately the theme is provided by WordPress.com, and the details of its configuration are out of my control.

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