To fellow members of the McGill commnity,
We are McGill employees, each of us working in a different capacity at the university. Between us we have given almost 100 years of service to McGill. We work hard and we take pride in the work that we do. Like you, we are members of the McGill community.
We are also MUNACA’s Executive, elected by our coworkers. As you are no doubt aware we have been on strike since Thursday, September 1, along with approximately 1,700 of our coworkers. We are not pleased about being on strike, and it is not a decision that we have taken lightly. But we feel that McGill administration has given us no choice.
Over the last several years we have watched as our terms and conditions of employment have deteriorated: the implementation of a two-tier pension plan; cuts to retirees; cuts to our benefits.
So-called “advisory” or “consultative” meetings with the University to “discuss” these matters, where we are told that we need to agree to such reductions or else expect worse.
The fact of the matter is that these unilateral changes are not happening at other major universities in this city. They are not happening because other universities such as the University of Montreal and the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) have agreed to protections for their employees’ plans. We believe the same can and should happen here.
Recently Provost Masi has taken to negotiating via the media and via communications to the broader McGill community by outlining in detail his interpretation of our initial proposals, made to the university in negotiations in February of this year. We should expect better from senior administrators at the university. Clearly the university’s intent is to divide McGill staff. But with respect to pension and benefits, to be clear, we have told the university that we are prepared to discuss joint committees for both our pensions and benefits, committees with representatives from all staff associations on campus, so that we as staff might have some control over what happens to our benefits and our pensions. To date, McGill has said no. We all pay millions into these plans; we deserve to have a say in what happens to them.
It is true that we are in dispute with respect to wages. We seek a proper wage scale, like those in place at other universities. Indeed, McGill has taken recently to referring in its communications to settlements that the provincial government has arrived at with its employees. Unionized provincial employees that do the same work as MUNACA members have proper wage scales. We do not. Instead we have to work at McGill for 37 years before we earn a full salary. The annual salary of Principal Monroe-Blum is greater than that of the Prime Minister of Canada. Millions are spent on renovating her office. Provost Masi is one of the highest paid University administrators in the province. And yet we are told that we cannot have a proper wage scale like other schools.
This, unfortunately, is consistent with what we have seen at McGill in recent years. Needs of staff are at the bottom of the administration’s priority list, if we make the list at all.
Our union is ready and willing to negotiate, and there are serious issues that need to be addressed in this round of negotiations. The sooner that the administration demonstrates a willingness to address these issues the sooner we can all get back to work and get back to serving the McGill community.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we’d like to thank the hundreds, if not thousands, of members of the McGill community for the outpouring of solidarity and support shown for our struggle to make McGill a better place to work. It is greatly appreciated. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the strike, visit one of our picket captains on the picket lines, or contact us at [email protected].