18 November 2011

Nineteen: Return to Sender

I graduated from this institution. Twice. And the truly ironic element is what McGill taught me while I studied Industrial Relations and then Law. My lessons are clearly not reflected in their actions now.

I'm ashamed to be associated with an institution that shows such contempt for its employees that it has forced them to the curb just to achieve what other workers in similar positions in other universities in Québec already have. I'm embarrassed to be identified with an organization which ought to value free speech, but which has pursued a series of injunctions to silence and distance its striking employees.

I'm not going to bring McGill to its knees with my refusal to donate to the Alma Mater Fund during the strike, but I want to make a point. If you are going to run roughshod over the rights of your employees and their reasonable expectations with respect to their working conditions, you will not have the benefit of my generosity, however small that might seem to you.

I hope I'm not alone.


Anonymous said...

Hi Keith
I am a McGill science professor directly impacted by this strike. I appreciate your opinion and you are certainly entitled to it. The reality - like most things in life - is alot more gray. The main reason for the injunction because of zealous picketers blocking shipments at research buildings. We had shipments blocked for 3 weeks and lost both valuable time and money ... Research that had to stop and reagents that were spoiled. Research into cancer and HIV/AIDS I might add. I'd just like to give a different perspective than the "suppression of free speech" drumbeat that echoes from the union.

Ken Monteith said...

First of all, my name is pretty clearly Ken, which I think I can flag in my own space.

Second, what do the Roddick Gates and the Milton/University entrance to McGill have to do with these science experiements? The places of work of the members of the Board of Governors? Too many limitations to be justified by the fragility of experiments that are not taking place in all buildings at McGill.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ken.I love seeing people with both side's perspective who sees thru the smoke and mirrors that administration is blowing in their very one sided mass emailing system.I am a Munaca striker and thank you from all of us.We're being treated like criminals with Cops everywhere we go even though there was NEVER a violent incident as best I know.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the mistype Ken
Things are not always black and white as you like to pontificate. When your career and livelihood are blocked by people illegally denying trucks access to your building, then that is grounds for an injunction. Also the classrooms lining Milton/University were being constantly disrupted by air horns. Not conducive for teaching. Again, who gets hurt here? Students and professors.
Not as clear as you may want to theorize about. But again, we all have different views. Not donating to McGill is a fine way to protest.

JpStriker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JpStriker said...

to Anonymous above:

I am offended when you say "thank you from all of us". Who made you the speaker for every member of Munaca? Your personal comments are yours alone so DO NOT presume to speak for me.

You should also know that there is always a police presence when large numbers congregate. This is to protect the group as well as others. Mob mentality is a very fragile and volitile thing. The most peace loving person can do violent things when in a mob situation incited by its leaders. Remember that we are no longer "harmless MUNACA", we are now big bad bullying PSAC who loves to dance with the "badder" FTQ. Isn't that what was wanted?

Our marches would not be possible either without the police guiding traffic. I don't want to imagine what it would have been like at the Jacques Cartier bridge if we followed our leaders and actually stopped traffic.

You should be glad they are there. I am.

Anonymous said...

The injunctions did not stop anyone from speaking...the "no free speach" mantra, as much of the union retoric, is based in misrepresentation. The injunctions woudl not have been necessary had the union used a little more dignified tactics. Milton, Mactavish, Roddick gates are surrounded by not only McGill buildings. The offices and private homes were more than happy with teh injunctionwhich simply stops MUNACA from having more than 15 picketers in one spot, not amplifying noise (one MUNACA member had a car battery attached to a car horn!) and not blocking access which is in teh labour laws already, by the way. No wher inthe injunction (and you coudlread it yourself on the MUNACA site) does it stop then from picketing in these areas nor does it stop anyone from talking to anyone at all. When the TAs were on strike a couple of years ago, they picketed in front of the gates everyday until they're strike was settled, no injunctions necessary there because they acted in a dignified manner. Ask th eperson who's car was surrendounded and pounded on at McTavish if they agre with the injunction, or the 70 year old woman who was surrounded, or the mom who's children were crying when they were surrounded at McIntyre. Keith, the union took it to another level, harrassing people at personal homes...should all those who don't agree with MUNACA go in front of Kevin Whittakers home and protest?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ken, from the bottom of the hearts of 99.9% of MUNACAns.If you follow our facebook page at all, you'll know Jp's in a minority of about 1.

Ken Monteith said...

Well, Aninamouse (just paying equal attention to your name — can you tell this happens to me too often?), I thiunk there has been an overreaction. 1 metre from the gate doesn't prevent one's messages from being seen; 15-20 metres from each and every entrance hides the strikers and their demands.

Hiding behind politeness and delicate sensibilities while denying security with respect to control of the pension and wages that don't keep pace with inflation is a kind of economic violence that has concrete and lasting negative effects.

I worry about the ability of McGill to really return to the kind of community that was so important to my formative years after such a protracted and bitter dispute.

Get back to the table and talk!

Ken Monteith said...

* my own typo! I *think* not *thiunk*
Guess I must be human.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the name, no excuse. Ken, I'm a McGill graduate, I've been a casual, then a MUNACA member and now in an "M' position, so I've been in their shoes.

In regards to the injunctions, they do not have to be 15-20 metres from the McGill entrances, it's only 4 meters (Injunction 1 section 1.c.) and when they are on campus they are quite visible. As you know the campus is quite spread out and people pass by picketers all the time to get to the various buildings, unless they are not there because they have been sent all over the city. The 25 meters is the injunction against amplified noise. Would you be happy to be hearing whistles, horns, drums etc..at 7:30 am at your home or classroom. The students who threw eggs at the picketers weren't. Don't get me wrong, I do not in any way condone what the students did, but the union should have kept the picketing respectful, as did the TAs and they would most likely not have injunctions against them.
As for the injunctions for the other sites, Board of Governors offices, private homes, ask the people around those areas how they feel about the injunctions. MUNACA's tactics have led to this animosity, they are feeding hatred to their members where there was none before.
Benefits are not being taken away, we are not losing any of teh coverage. The contribution amount from the university is being changed. Same for the pension, they are making changes to make our pension plans sustainable for the future. In an era where companies are going bankcrupt due to their pension plans, I'd rather put in a little more (2-3% increase) to get it back later when I'll need it. The increase comes back to teh pensioner. The demand to have veto power over the benefits and pension is ridiculous, how can one group speak for all the others? They already have an elected representative on the committee.

As for the wages, I would be extremely happy if they did receive more than the 1.2% currently offerred by the university, however their claim that they are so far behind the other Quebec universities is again a misrepresentation of the facts. Salary alone does not reflect reality. McGill employees have more paid days off than any of the other universiies which is what they negotiated years ago. They have 5 weeks vacation after 7 years of service (others need to get to 19 years to get 5 weeks), they work 33.75 hours per week as opposed to 35 or 38 hours, they have 10 full Fridays off (paid) in the summer instead of only half days (3n hours off)...would they be willing to match the other univeristies in order to get the pay increase? I say be careful what you wish for.

JpStriker said...

Looks like too many "Anonymi" here to keep track of who to comment back to. Leave to say that I aree with the injunctions because I believe we were WAY too noisy and disruptive. I also agree with leaving people who work at Bell, Hydro, CIBC, RBC, and any other places out of our fight. We should never have tried to block these "inocent" people from trying to care for their families. I also agree with leaving private homes and family lives of McGill Administration personnel out of our fight. My feelings and comments are these and I thank you for the opportunity to voice them here.

Ken Monteith said...

The one thing I can agree with is that there are too many anonymous comments. I won't approve any more anonymous comments for publication with respect to this post.

My own impressions of the invisibility of the strikers after the injunctions comes from passing by on the bus on Sherbrooke. I must have blinked, because it was midday on a weekday and there was no sign of anyone anywhere near the entrances. That strikes me as odd, and I'm reasonably certain that this was not a strategic union decision.

The only power workers have is to withdraw their labour and to disrupt the business of their employer with visibility and information. I will always support that.

We also haven't explored the disciplinary hearings for students who demonstrated their support for MUNACA. I understand that everyone was cleared, but how intimidating was it to be charged for speaking out?

Kim Smart said...

Vis à vis the original injunction (and only the original injunction): Could everybody please remember that MUNACA had been on strike for three weeks before the administration went out for an "emergency" injunction. For three weeks they had no problem with MUNACA disrupting all and sundry with noise, blocking or slowing traffic, pedestrian and vehicular. Three weeks.

But the game changed the day after those in James Admin actually had to see and hear the *whole* union walking up and down Univeristy Street. *That's* when they decided to get the injunction for the safety of their faculty, staff and students; for the re-establishment of deliveries (I guess every picket point is different. Cars came through McTavish no problem.) Please.

I'm not weighing in with anything else. There's too many shades of grey. Spin on all sides. And I'm getting dizzy.

Tom Mansell said...

I agree with Kim Smart. Eventhough I had been on the picket line for three weeks, it was only on the day of our march up and down University Street where you could see our hundreds picketing in good spirits that I realized the strength of a union. I think this day McGill's administration got scared. No other reason for the injunction because in all the time before the injunction my picket line never refused entry to any vehicle or person wishing to pass. The instructions from our picket captains were always clear on this issue.

Ken Monteith said...

1 additional comment not published because it was posted anonymously. Sorry, I set the new rule for this post three comments above.

Tina Tremblay said...

I'm responding to the comment of "the mom who's children were crying when they were surrounded at McIntyre". I am a Munaca member on strike and I have been picketing at the McIntyre from about day 4 of the strike. I am also one of the "Captains" of that picket line. We always had a saying from Day 1......we are baby, child and dog friendly. Before the injunction, as soon as children, baby carriages, older folks and dogs came to cross our line, we stopped our noise and let them through. I have never heard of any children being surrounded by picketers at the McIntyre. I can verify this with the other shift Captains and I will. We even made an agreement with a resident who lived in the building next to us that we would not whistle before 9 a.m. because of her baby. In appreciation she brought us a huge bag of goodies and a case of apple juice. I guess that just proves how nasty and disturbing Munaca picketers are! We had daily drop offs of coffee, donuts, baked goods.......and we never stopped a truck from entering the McIntyre. We stopped them to inform them of the strike and asked that they don't cross our picket line. If they chose to, the line was separated safely and the trucks let through. If they chose to not cross our picket line, they turned around and left. I'm bothered by people reporting "facts" about us without knowing the "real facts".

Mary Kay said...

Sorry Tina, but I beg to differ. I was one of those people that was stopped at the McIntyre. A women, not a truck or a delivery... I wasn't just asked to stop so that a could be "educated" on the issues. A picket captain, and I won't use her name although I now know who she is because she's made the news, got in front of my car with her arms outstretched and yelled at the rest of the picketers who had stopped walking, to keep walking. Does that sound like "just informing" me? When I rolled down my window some of the other picketers actually apologized to me and when I asked them why they were doing this, they answered becuase they have no choice, they were told to stop everyone from entering. This happened on the Peel side. I know some of the people that were on the Drummond side and I agree, they were not doing this. But don't say it didn't happen, becauase I assure you not all picket captains are made the same.