Commentary  MUNACA is not a dirty word

Last Friday afternoon, McGill was granted an injunction against MUNACA. The injunction, or emergency court ruling, restricts union activities pertaining to picketing around campus property. Restrictions include the maintenance of a four meter distance between picket lines and McGill property, a limit of 15 picketers per group at that distance, and noise limitations.

Michael Di Grappa explained the administration’s  reasons for requesting the injunction in his email to all students on Monday. “In response to MUNACA/Public Service Alliance of Canada pressure tactics that have been limiting access to our campus and putting members of our community at risk, McGill asked the Superior Court of Quebec for an injunction…” he explained.

By portraying MUNACA picketers as a threat to the McGill community – rather than the fellow members of the community that they are –  the admin misleadingly paints MUNACA workers as violent, and may isolate their fellow McGill community members from their cause. Di Grappa’s email demonizes workers and portrays picketers as being in confrontation with students.

McGill is also using its mass communication channels to undermine MUNACA’s cause in the eyes of students, propogating its own rhetoric on the strike. This is particularly unfair, as Friday’s injunction even further restricts MUNACA’s already limited capacity to distribute information on a level remotely on par with McGill. While McGill has been sending out e-mails to the McGill community, Munaca workers do not have so much as access to their McGill emails, and, thus, cannot even see the administration’s statements about them.

Previously, MUNACA’s largest means of distributing information was the noise they made, the presence they occupied, and the fliers they created. Now that they’ve been pushed farther away from campus, their reach has been compromised and their voice stifled.

Out of the 1,700 MUNACA workers on strike, many come to campus each day to picket four meters away from their place of work. Even after almost a month, workers are still picketing to have progressive pay scales that don’t necessitate working up to 37 years before reaching maximum salary, to have control over their pensions and benefits, and to have seniority at McGill considered as part of hiring practices. Neither the union’s strike tactics nor their demands are threatening to students – McGill should stop claiming that they are. Now that MUNACA workers have been pushed even farther away from campus, it’s more important than ever the McGill community joins in mobilization efforts and support our fellow community members by wearing buttons, attending demonstrations, and informing themselves and their friends.