A recent ad campaign by the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA) has sparked another disagreement between McGill administration and the union.
The ads, published February in The Daily, McGill Tribune, and the Montreal Gazette, accused University administrators of refusing to acknowledge support staffs’ contributions on campus by denying what the union deemed as a fair salary raise while adding five new, high-paying positions to the McGill administration.
Vice-President of MUNACA Raynald Lepage explained that MUNACA would not have a problem with administrators’ high salaries as long as workers received a satisfactory wage increase, something that he saw as entirely possible.
“McGill will always claim that they have no money for political reasons. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have money, it just means they don’t want to use money on this specific demand,” Lepage said.
On February 19, Francois Roy, Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance), responded with an online press release criticizing the ads for misleading readers. The document sought to clarify the context behind the creation of several new positions and defended the large salaries of several McGill administrators – especially those attracting medical research.
“Medical research is one of the major drivers of this University, something that brings with it a significant amount of funding and employment opportunities,” Roy explained in the press release.
Lepage defended MUNACA’s campaign, asserting that disagreements over the validity of the union’s claims were merely an issue of presentation. According to the vice-president, ads were intended to motivate the administration to make progress with the union.
“The ads are only a tool to get a response from the University. They have to serve the purpose that they strike a nerve and we get to talking again….The only thing that can move this administration will be their image. Attack their image and they will move.”
The advertisements are yet another event in a longstanding disagreement between the parties about the University’s proposed salary increases.
MUNACA’s ad in the Gazette cites McGill’s proposed salary increase for the union as two per cent, while the administration’s press release noted that the University has previously offered deals wage increases of two and a half and three per cent over three years.
According to Lepage, the discrepancy in cited figures is due to differing interpretations of wage increase proposals. Such agreements may result in varying wage increases for different employees through the use of both “scale increases,” which apply to all workers, and “automatic progression increases,” which do not apply to the highest earners in the union.
“McGill has made a fair offer, particularly given the economic downturn of the last several months,” Roy wrote.
The 1,700 member union has been vouching for a pay increase since December 2007.