The Association of McGill Undergraduate Student Employees (AMUSE) decided to suspend its bid for formal union accreditation from the Quebec Labour Board last week, after McGill issued a formal letter to the Board, threatening to contest their application.
“We decided that fighting McGill…would be a waste of our energy, and we could do more by continuing our campaign, and then reapply later,” said AMUSE member and U3 History student Dan Pudjak.
The grounds for McGill’s objection, according to Morton Mendelson, Deputy Provost (Student Life & Learning), was AMUSE’s manner of categorizing student workers into student, non-academic – like gym employees or floor fellows – and casual workers; McGill proposed a division into just non-academic and casual workers.
Mendelson added that McGill did not find the union sustainable because certain job titles could be filled by non-undergraduate employees.
“The union defines a community of interest; they define a group that they think is an appropriate group…[but] we have jobs where one person is a student, and another is not,” said Mendelson, indicating that McGill was prepared to propose new categories to the Board.
“The employer can accept that that’s an appropriate group, or it can present an alternative,” he said.
AMUSE member Jacob Feygin, however, thought McGill’s objection was just a delay tactic.
“We think the union we submitted is perfectly viable, and that McGill is just delaying us by trying to challenge us,” Feygin said.
This was not the first time that McGill has obstructed AMUSE’s efforts to gain accreditation. This fall, when the union was seeking signatures necessary for its application to the Board, McGill withheld lists of student employees, for legal and privacy reasons. Working without a formal list, AMUSE organizers held events – like free beer and pizza nights – to identify students who worked for the University.
Further complications with the application arose because the entire AMUSE union did not apply for accreditation at once, as the organizers decided to only submit a bid for the non-academic staff section where they had enough signatories.
According to Max Silverman, former SSMU VP External and a current AMUSE organizer, it was not appropriate for the union to apply on behalf of other internal units – such as casual and academic workers – because they did not acquire sufficient signatures from those areas.
Feygin explained that ultimately AMUSE decided to regroup and submit their bid later this year, when they have enough signatures from all sections.
“The game plan is to let it be known that AMUSE is here and AMUSE is going to be staying,” said Pudjak. “Even though that last court battle didn’t happen, there will be future court battles, and we’re not going anywhere.”
-with files from Nicholas Smith