Commentary  Stay strong MUNACA

On Friday October 14, MUNACA member Joan O’Malley was arrested after refusing to leave an Alumni luncheon at the Hilton Montreal Bonaventure Hotel, where she and other union members were distributing flyers. O’Malley was pushed against a wall, put in handcuffs, and escorted to a police car where she spent an hour. “I’m 63 years old. I’ve never been arrested in my life,” she told The Daily.

Last week, Heather Munroe-Blum sent out an email accusing MUNACA members of vandalism and of throwing objects. However, she failed to mention that the so-called “vandalism” was stickers. The “thrown objects” consisted of flowers and one single umbrella – which, rather than an organized tactic by MUNACA, was a mistake on the part of one person. We are all part of McGill, she explained, “we don’t do that here.” This strategy of using misleading rhetoric to delegitimize MUNACA is petty and demoralizing –and strikers have no way to respond with the same reach that members of the McGill admin do.

As we enter week eight of the strike, things only seem to be getting worse. There is a mental and physical toll that comes with being on strike – one that certainly only increases as the weeks drag on, as the injunction is extended, and negotiations are scheduled for further and further in the future. And with the first snowfall on the horizon, its going to be a lot tougher to stand outside and brave the weather in the coming weeks. On top of that, workers come home with a paycheck that is a small fraction of their normal one: only $375 a week. This reduced pay is inadequate for many MUNACA members to support themselves or their families when it comes to making ends meet.

Moreover, MUNACA workers cannot simply return to their jobs at McGill. They need what they’re asking for in these negotiations. The University has repeatedly denied them the same pay as comparable workers at other Quebec universities. They’re trying to get back to their previous benefits, which were cut last year. Moreover, if they give in now, they lose leverage with the administration in future negotiations.

It’s important to remember that MUNACA members are part of our McGill community. They are members who should be listened to, and – no matter which side of the bargaining table you are on – treated with the respect that every member of our community deserves. And in the meantime, they need our support: wear pins, write to Heather Munroe-Blum, and ask them how they’re doing when you pass them on the street.

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