The provisional injunction that restricts McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA) members’ picketing was extended on October 13, and will remain in place until January 21, at the request of the union.
MUNACA President Kevin Whittaker explained the union’s logic behind this decision.
“Our lawyers advised us that, even though the injunction is quite severe, contesting it on its merits would probably not be successful. Furthermore, if our contestation on the merits was unsuccessful, it would result in a permanent injunction,” Whittaker said.
Previously, the provisional injunction required renewal every ten days.
Michael Di Grappa, McGill vice-president (Administration and Finance), spoke to the University’s proposed timeline for the injunction.
“We, McGill, had proposed a process that would have [had the status of the injunction] resolved by sometime in November. The union came back with a schedule, for whatever reason, that extended it to [January] 21. So, that was their proposal and the judge accepted it,” Di Grappa said.
Whittaker explained the implications of a permanent injunction against the union.
“That would mean that the injunction rules would apply forever. For example, we would never be able to have a demonstration on campus,” he said, adding, “to avoid this outcome, and to avoid returning to court shortly to go through the same exercise, we decided to have the case heard in January.”
The Daily viewed the public civil case file in full.
McGill’s original motion, submitted on September 23, was to grant of a provisional interlocutory injunction, an interlocutory injunction, and a permanent injunction. The motion was supported by three affidavits and 13 evidentiary exhibits, including videotapes of union picket lines taken by Security Services.
In the original motion submitted by McGill, union members would have been required to maintain a distance of 10 meters from McGill property, and gather in groups of no larger than 10 persons.
The extended provisional injunction retains the provisions that MUNACA members cannot use amplification devices or create noise within 25 meters of McGill property, be within four meters of the campus, or gather in groups of more than 15 people.
The court proceedings for the interlocutory injunction were agreed upon on October 13, after the union submitted an alternative timetable.
The affidavits, analyzed by Judge Brian Riordan, were authored by Operations Manager of McGill’s Security Services Christopher Carson, Associate Director of University Safety and head of Security Services Pierre Barbarie, and Director of Labour and Employee Relations Robert Comeau.
MUNACA and McGill are in conciliation today and tomorrow. Since October 13, there have been three conciliation meetings. Both parties have presented offers to “resolve all non-economic matters in dispute.” At the time of press, neither party had accepted an offer.
MUNACA occupies the chair of the Board of Governors’ office
On Tuesday, the union set up picket lines around the Montreal office of Stikeman Elliott LLP to “occupy” the workplace of Stuart Cobbett, the chair of McGill’s Board of Governors.
MUNACA members, including union executive member Colleen O’Brien and strike coordinator Joan O’Malley, said that they met briefly with Cobbett to deliver a letter written by union President Kevin Whittaker.
Cobbett described the presentation of the letter as “odd” in an interview with The Daily. He said the members arrived in his office reception area unannounced and uninvited.
“When they first came I was out and they were told that, long story short, ultimately they would not leave and insisted on seeing me, so I went up and saw them,” Cobbett said.
“They handed me a letter from the president of MUNACA, Kevin Whittaker, asking me, as Board Chair, to do whatever I could to get the strike resolved,” he said.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Whitaker explained that MUNACA is asking McGill’s Board of Governors to use their position to work towards a fair resolution of the strike. He stated that “it is now up to them to use their position of influence to bring this dispute to a rapid conclusion.”
Though Cobbett said that the Board of Governors receives regular reports on the strike, he said that “ultimately, the Board of Governors is not there to interfere with what management is doing and what the administration is doing. We set the broad parameters and then it’s over to management.”
Union members left a message in sidewalk chalk outside Cobbett’s office, reading “Mr. S.H. Cobbett, please help us get a fair contract.”
MUNACA members had previously visited the office of McGill Board of Governors member Kathy Fazel on October 12. The union announced that they had received a “firm commitment” from Fazel.
Cobbett said he heard from Fazel that MUNACA workers had appeared in her office, however, he had “no specific warning” that they would do the same to his workplace.