The Association of McGill University Support Employees is now the official union of McGill’s non-academic casual workers, receiving accreditation from the Quebec Labour Board last month. An October mail-in vote of eligible employees resulted in an overwhelming 85 per cent of casual workers voting in favour of the union. (There are approximately 3,000 non-academic casual workers at McGill, about 65 per cent of which are students.)
Some of these students may be surprised that they’re now in a union. Casual employment at McGill is varied, and some student employees – including some members of the Tribune editorial board – were unaware of the accreditation vote. Some accreditation ballots were sent to home addresses in another province or country, while some casual employees – namely, all McGill Athletics intramural employees that the Tribune spoke with – did not receive ballots at all. Some emails to the [email protected] were left unreturned in the fall semester, and the last email to the listserv of casual workers who had signed “application cards” supporting AMUSE was sent almost a year ago. Finally, neither of McGill’s student papers were informed that an accreditation vote was underway in October – the process seemed to take place under a cover of darkness.
None of this is to suggest that AMUSE’s mandate is not legitimate – the landslide vote in favour of AMUSE is a clear indication that most casual employees desire union representation. Furthermore, some of the problems listed above – especially the missing ballots – may be the fault of the Labour Board or McGill University. However, AMUSE should make an effort to reach out to all casual employees who may have been left in the dark during the accreditation process.
Every employee deserves to know that they are now in a union. AMUSE should make an effort to contact all casual employees – especially those working in the Athletics department and first-year student workers – who may feel marginalized, and inform them of how to get involved in shaping the union’s priorities. Furthermore, AMUSE’s website, which is currently unhelpful and hard to find, needs to be improved and updated immediately.
There is a wide spectrum of student employees at McGill, some who will be unhappy to find out that they are now represented by a union. We hope that AMUSE can find a way to get them all on the same page for the sake of better working conditions at McGill.