On March 9, approximately 250 members of the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA) demonstrated in front of the James Administration Building to protest about a delay in finalizing and signing a collective agreement with the McGill administration. The agreement, ratified by MUNACA’s members on Dec. 5, 2011, was reached after months of negotiations, ending the union’s three-month strike.
Since the end of the strike, the McGill administration and the labour union have been translating and finalizing the collective agreement before signing it.
The rally started at the Roddick Gates at 12:30 p.m. and moved in front of the James Administration Building. After addressing the demonstrators, MUNACA president Kevin Whittaker entered James Administration to deliver a letter addressed to Principal Heather Munroe-Blum.
“[MUNACA members] are concerned—they’re very angry actually,” David Kalant, VP Finance of MUNACA, said. “They expected maybe a month, month and a half to settle everything, have [the agreement] translated properly, get it signed. And now it’s been three months and we don’t know when it will end.”
Whittaker explained that the delay has to do with an article that addresses individuals whose salaries exceed the pay equity line drawn in 2001, and would allow them to receive salary increases as a one-time lump sum.
MUNACA had requested a list of the individuals who would be affected by this article and received 80 names from the administration. However, according to Whittaker, the administration recently announced that over 40 names have been added to the original list, but MUNACA has yet to receive the updated version.
“If they could tell us three weeks ago that there were [over] 40 people, they had to have known who they were, [and] they could have provided us that information,” Whittaker said. “It should not take three weeks to do that. We’re asking them to stop stalling and get us the information so we can proceed.”
The letter delivered to Munroe-Blum’s office further elaborated on the union’s concerns.
“At [a Feb. 17] meeting the Employer’s representative, Mr. Robert Comeau, among other things, stated that the Employer has added members to the already provided list of 80 employees that the parties had already agreed upon,” the letter reads. “It was clear during negotiations, however, that only those members who were clearly identified by the university and agreed upon by MUNACA, would be affected by Article 23.10.”
A statement released by McGill on March 6 cites a portion of the conciliator’s report, which states that “the collective agreement will provide that economic increases are paid as a lump sum payment (pensionable) for employees whose salary is over the maximum of the employer’s current salary scale.”
“Both parties agreed on this and all other items in the report, which was then signed by each party,” McGill’s statement reads. “The union now wants this clause to apply to a limited number of employees. The university disagrees and is waiting for the union’s position.”
Whittaker said that the union will be holding information sessions in upcoming weeks to keep its members informed.
“Our hopes are that the administration will realize that the membership [is] very upset about this,” Whittaker said. “They’ve been out for three months and now we’ve been waiting for an additional three months. We would like the administration to honour its commitment to get this contract signed and for us to get [a] resolution in this matter.”
Michael Di Grappa, Vice Principal Administration and Finance could not be reached for comment at the time of press.