McGill, News

AMUSE elects new slate of executives following two months of leadership vacancy

The Association of McGill University Support Employees (AMUSE) welcomed eight new members to its Board of Representatives (BoR) and five new officers to its Executive Committee at a Special General Meeting (SGM) held on Nov. 2. The SGM was convened to fill the seats left vacant after a contentious ruling by AMUSE’s parent union, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), that immediately dismissed all but one AMUSE executive. PSAC cited previously unenforced membership eligibility rules as the driving factor in its decision to fire five executives.  

According to Aliya Frendo, who has now served on AMUSE’s BoR for seven months, around 27 eligible AMUSE members gathered in the Thompson House Ballroom for the SGM. This was a marked increase in attendance from the Sept. 26 SGM that failed to meet the 15-person quorum. 

“I think it was really impressive how many people stepped forward,” Frendo said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “People who didn’t even run received nominations, and they accepted. I don’t think that actually ever happened during the time I was here. And the turnout was pretty good, especially among floor fellows.”

The SGM successfully elected members for all vacant executive and BoR positions. The incoming members will serve in these roles until the Annual General Meeting in February 2023. In an interview with the Tribune, AMUSE President James Newman said he was elated by the fact that all positions had been filled.

“I’ve gotten a chance to speak to the people who’ve gotten elected and they’re really top-notch people,” Newman said. “They all seem to be really brilliant, committed activists who are dedicated to fighting for the membership. I’m excited to work with them, and I think tonight was a great example of union democracy in action.” 

Outreach and Development Coordinator Tricia Robinson echoed Newman’s optimism for AMUSE’s future, but noted a few obstacles the new leadership will have to tackle together. 

“I think that AMUSE has such a big regrowth period ahead of it,” Robinson said in an interview with the Tribune. “There’s a big conversation that needs to be had with the PSAC [about] how they can better represent this union [….] I don’t think these are the types of issues that you should act on swiftly because [AMUSE] is such a big union. There are 1,300 members. So, the internal structure is super important.”

Robinson, Frendo, and Newman all commented on how PSAC’s negligence regarding AMUSE’s structure must be thoroughly addressed. Robinson added that training incoming executives will be difficult without previous office-holders to supervise the transition, but she thinks AMUSE is now equipped for the challenge. 

“We’ve been building tools and schedules and priority lists of what they need to know and what they need to be successful in the roles,” Robinson said. “The best scenario is a hand-off from the previous executives […] but that’s not what we’re working with. So this is the second-best thing [….] Just talking to folks tonight who were elected, I think they’re probably up for that challenge too.”

AMUSE executives interviewed by the Tribune all voiced regret for the past few months of turmoil amongst the AMUSE leadership, but expressed hopes that the union will learn from the experience and “build back better.” 

“There was a lot of tension between us, a lot of mistrust, drama, controversy,” Newman said. “But at the end of the day, the real object of our struggle is McGill.  Everyone who has served in AMUSE is a union activist who did as much as they could, and it’s unfortunate everything happened as it did. It was a very painful, heart-wrenching thing to go through, but we’re focused on the future, and that’s what this meeting was about.”

The incoming executive committee includes Allison Bender, Labour Relations Officer; Crystal Wu, Internal Affairs Officer; Jessica Tian, Treasurer; Aryana Azodi, Communications and Outreach Officer; and Isabelle Reynolds, Vice-President  Floor Fellow.

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