Reply to McGill’s Action Plan to Address Anti-Black Racism

Dear Principal Fortier, 

We read, with great interest, the Action Plan to Address Anti-Black Racism you presented on September 30th. We had responded to your initial announcement with hope, anticipation and – it is not too strong a word – sense of relief. McGill seemed poised both to match its reputation for excellence and to combine the seriousness of the occasion with gravity and thoroughness. By the end, however, we find the document disappointing and a bit puzzling.

It presents a contrast. A certain number of the terms and goals framed contain a ringing acknowledgement of its subjects’ importance. In some sections there is a breadth of vision. Unfortunately, this impression is not sustained as the scope of its action items are increasingly restricted. 

The Plan announces the embrace of what – it must be stated – are modest targets for hiring a greater number of Black faculty. The strength of this statement is in its establishment of concrete and immovable targets. We also laud the recognition of a need for what is described as community outreach and support for students. We fear, however, that there are inadequate administrative resources committed to this promise. There is also a notable failure to recognize the many past, failed commitments. 

The references to establishing goals based on “percentages of population” are disappointing: they clash discordantly with the rhetoric used elsewhere in this document. The Plan appears to recognize, on the one hand, a moral deficit of catastrophic proportions. On the other, it pointedly and persistently hedges expectations, even in its academic ambitions. For example, it mentions studying the possible expansion of the African Studies program, but completely ignores the existence of the Latin American and Carribean Studies Program – even as it discusses the possibilities for enlarging Carribean Studies. 

McGill employs over 10,000 people, but there is no suggestion to hire even as many 100 additional Black colleagues.There is no more than a nod given to the importance of Black support staff or other underrepresented minorities. The Plan’s proposal to address this – along the lines of hiring a dozen or so more Black managers – obviously falls far short of the federal and provincial governments’ and of McGill’s own goals for diversity and inclusion. Here, as well, the report uses the specious “metrics” of “percentage of population.” The Plan forthrightly presents the themes of history, disproportionate representation, systemic barriers and oppression spanning the history of our institution and the society it reflects. The corrective actions it proposes, however, fall far short of addressing them.  

We pass over the issue of the McGill statue (decisions on its status are still pending) and other forms of “glorification,” as the Plan impressively puts it, which remain in place (the regrettably named Le James Bookstore comes to mind), but do acknowledge the commitment to serious study of the systems and interconnected webs of enrichment based on slavery and exploitation. This effort to uncover the colonialist and slavery-embracing past of our institutions is extremely overdue and welcome: we sincerely hope the analysis will continue to the present day and will include contemporary examples. 

It is with sorrow that we conclude that this effort, which begins with such promise and impressive scope, falters in significant ways, for reasons that are difficult to decipher. We are convinced we can do better. We ask you to reconsider this plan. We think it could be redrafted with still more passion, more conviction, and the ambition to match our human and financial capital. There is still the possibility of mining the richness of our combined strength and the values our community aspires to embody. 

regards,

The MUNACA Union Council

Open Letter to the McGill Administration

Dear Principal Fortier et al,


We have some questions regarding ramping up and bringing Faculty members, staff and students back on campus.

Considering the following;
– The second wave is here with a vengeance, over 750 new cases today (28/09/20).
– The Federal and Ontario government’s are urging everyone to get flu shots, Quebec is not, and McGill is not offering flu shots this year,
– McGill is unwilling to provide masks or face coverings for employees working on campus. 
– McGill is unwilling to extend complimentary parking so that employees may avoid public transit and its associated health and safety risks. 
– Our southern neighbour is a potential powder keg and has the worst record dealing with the pandemic. With just around 4% of the population of the planet they have more than 25% of the cases and more than 25% of the deaths. The Trump Administration has, to say the least, downplayed the severity of this crisis and are now considering a herd immunity solution, which some scientists have reported that this plan could see over 2 million deaths, 
– The provincial government had issued an orange alert and as of 17:30, we are now in a red zone
– Today (28/09/20). In Quebec since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 72,651 cases and 5,826 people have died, 
– McGill students question the Administration’s account with regards to the numbers of COVID cases at McGill. The Administration has reported 6 whereas the students claim many more:
.
Given the above, what is the McGill Administration doing?
– Allowing 30% capacity of student and staff to be on the campus,
– Recalling back to work, staff members who have 100% capability of fulfilling their duties from home. The rationale for this is that the Administration does not want employees to get used to working from home but would rather risk their health and safety by forcing them onto campus.
– The Administration has decided that previously acceptable health concerns for remaining at home, such as being a cancer survivor or diabetes, is no longer an acceptable reason for not being called back to work,
– McGill’s Administration claimed last week that there was no need to slowdown the ramping up of the return to work and classes due to the orange alert,
– The Administration is following the strictures of the provincial government, the one with the worst record in dealing with the pandemic in the country. This same administration claims that they are one of the best employers.


Principal Fortier et al, do you think these policies advisable under the circumstances? These policies are incongruent to your stated concern for a healthy workplace. Is now not the time to take a step back, and place the health and safety of all the community as the number one priority? We are not contesting the humanity, nor sincerity, of those making the decisions
regarding returning to work. We know they have family members, children and friends affected by this crisis. We are simply asking for a reconsideration of priorities. Put the health and safety of students, staff, and faculty first and not the resumption of on-site activities.

Regards, 
The MUNACA Executive Committee

In Support of statement by the McGill Black Faculty Caucus

The following letter was sent to Principal Suzanne Fortier, in support of the statement of the McGill Black Faculty Caucus

Statement on the James McGill statue

Dear members, 

At the Union Council meeting of August 26th, a motion was passed in support of our black and indigenous brothers and sisters in their call for the removal of the James McGill statue. As part of this motion, there was a call to end systemic racism and for specific and concrete measures to promote inclusiveness and remove all barriers to studying and hiring.

The Union Council supports these measures as it was felt that it is not the time to be silent on these issues and that we must respect and continue the union movement’s role as an engine for social change. The union movement has fought for and succeeded in making many improvements in the lives of all Canadians such as; employment insurance, medicare, maternity/paternity leaves, and a broad and more inclusive definition of discrimination, to name but a few. Now is the time to put an end to racism – in all its forms.

This is a very critical juncture where we can make a difference for a better and just future for all. 

Racism has no place in our Union, in the McGill Community, and our society at large.

Yours as always, in solidarity,

The MUNACA Executive Committee

For more information please consult the following links.

Take James McGill Down campaign

Public Letter

Statement on the Police Murder of George Floyd

Dear MUNACA Members,

I write to you today regarding what is happening in the United States. On May 25th a Black man was murdered by police officers in Minneapolis. George Floyd was killed for apparently trying to purchase groceries with a counterfeit $20.00 bill. These deaths caused by police officers have been happening for far too many years. Very little has changed since I watched Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech on TV in Washington on August 28th, 1963. To paraphrase Dr King: when you diminish one, you diminish all. Racism is a scourge on humanity and it needs to be eradicated, and let us not conclude it is solely an American issue, I remind you that in our city Anthony Griffin, Fredy Villanueva, Nicholas Gibbs, and others have been killed by police. Many have tried to combat these crimes, and yet it continues. However, when an innocent person is murdered because of the colour of their skin, we all must rise up and say, No More!!

There are times when I fear for our species, and this is one of them. But when I think of the contributions of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela, I am less fearful.

Malcolm was right when he said that Plymouth Rock landed on black people but the rock now has taken on the form of police officers.

We must find a way to stop murdering men, women and children because of their colour or ethnicity. People of colour should not have to go through their day and fear for their safety, especially from those who are supposed ‘to serve and protect.’

I ask all MUNACA Members to raise their voices and condemn these murders.

One way you may show your support, for example, is by going to https://blacklivesmatter.com/ or other similar websites to donate to the cause of justice and lend your voice to the movement.

Yours as always in solidarity,
tc

Thomas Chalmers
President MUNACA-PSAC 17602 514-398-6565

“Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere”
– Martin Luther King Jr.

https://www.archives.gov/files/press/exhibits/dream-speech.pdf
“If you stay neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the
oppressor” – Desmond Tutu


PSAC Statement
http://psacunion.ca/anti-black-racism-its-everyones-fight

I am providing a couple of links from those who do not normally make statements
about what is happening in our world.
https://www.secondcityhockey.com/2020/6/1/21277353/chicago-blackhawks-
jonathan-toews-statement-george-floyd-death-protests-black-lives-matter

https://www.nbcsports.com/chicago/blackhawks/blackhawks-zack-smith-issues-
statement-following-death-george-floyd-protests-0

Annual General Meeting 2020

Dear Members of MUNACA,

We hope you are safe and doing well under the circumstances. We are writing to you today to inform you about some changes to our Annual General Meeting date.

According to our bylaws, the Annual General Meeting must be held on or before the 15th of June each year. However, we believe all would agree that this is in no way a normal year. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on all we do. Large gatherings have been banned by the government, the PSAC have postponed the Quebec Regional and the National triennial, to the next years. Due to this pandemic, it has made Unions and Associations reconsider how to go about their daily operations. This pandemic is a force majeure and has caused Unions and Associations to reconsider their operations. MUNACA has been obliged to do the same.

On Monday, May 11th, the Union Council decided that in the best interest of the membership, our AGM be postponed to the fall. We hope by that time we will be able to gather together in person. If that is still not possible we will hold the meeting virtually. In the interim, we shall explore the possibility of online info sessions.
Stay tuned.

Letter to Provost Manfredi and VP Beauchamps – re: COVID-19

Dear Provost Manfredi and VP Beauchamps,

On behalf of the undersigned Unions and Associations representing roughly 10,000 non-academic staff, we have the following recommendations for improving labour relations and dealing effectively with the Coronavirus that is having a serious impact on our community here at McGill, and throughout our province and our country.

It shall come as no surprise that we have concerns with regards to the manner in which the McGill Administration has handled this crisis. We are not here to play the blame game but to deal with this crisis. We believe in cooperation, consultation and solidarity. We are also very cognizant of the fact that this is a global crisis and that the issues are difficult, complex and at times overwhelming. This is not the time to take a top down approach, this is a time for working together. Up until very recently, one of our main issues with your administration was that you were issuing edicts with little to no consultation, we admittedly felt not part of the McGill community in your eyes, an afterthought if you will. That being said, members of central HR have reached out and asked us for consideration and cooperation, in effect we have been asked how we can work together.

We have some suggestions;

– inform all members of the community that they will be compensated as they would normally be. This will go a long way of reducing stress for the entire community;

– inform the community that only the minimal essential services will be maintained until the provincial government declares otherwise. This must be enforced throughout the University as we have been informed that local HR, managers and supervisors have interpreted essential services in a very ‘liberal’ fashion;

– and finally, as we have much to offer, all the undersigned groups shall be given a seat on the Emergency Response Committee. We feel this will go a long way in improving labour/management relations and we will be better able, together, to deal with this crisis. 

Regards,

Thomas Chalmers – MUNACA President

Raad Jassim – President, MCLIU

Andrew Fraser – SEU  President (Macdonald)

Jose Rego – President SEU Facilities..

Kiersten van Vliet- AGSEM President

Allen Neil- President Ues(800) trades union downtown

Delali Egyima- President, AMUSE

Giovanni Mendicino – President SEU –DataCenter

Judy Dear – President, MUNASA

Gaetan Serres -SEU President  – Printing Services

Sean Cory – President AMURE

COVID-19 BULLETIN #2

Dear Members,

We recognise that these are very trying and stressful times. We also realise that the COVID-19 crisis is new to all and it is difficult to manage. There are many things to consider and many challenges to face, however, MUNACA members have been through tough times before and have proven their resilience.

In our recent open letter to Principal Fortier, we decried their management of this crisis and their lack of concern for the wellbeing of McGill’s staff. We offered our assistance in this time of worry and stress but as yet they have not contacted us and continue with their paternalistic attitude towards the employees of McGill. 

We have also expressed our concerns over their lack of leadership, evidenced by their recent communiques on the subject, and the hesitancy to make clear decisions like Concordia University, Ecole Polytechnique and UQAM where days ago they  informed their community that they will be closed and staff would be paid.

https://www.concordia.ca/covid19info.html#mar13-president

https://www.polymtl.ca/covid19/

McGill’s Administration seems to prefer confusion over clarity. This is not new, we have seen this before. When they introduced the Family Leave Pilot Project they did so while the Unions and Associations were waiting to hear back from them as we had made some suggestions for improvement. The same has happened with the Flexible Work Arrangements. Unions and Associations have pointed out problems and yet they release the pilot project for their managers and supervisors to administer and interpret in a multiple of confusing and erroneous fashions. We have learned that some supervisors are demanding that staff come to work in areas that are not essential to the functioning of the university.

TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER!!

Now to practical issues. 

-We believe that until March 30th, the University is to be shut down except for essential services.

-If you are required to go to work take note of your hours worked. 

-Working from Home, see below Fabrice Labeau stated that where possible you should work from home. If your supervisor insists that you are on campus please let us know.

-Do not risk being insubordinate, but remind your supervisors that you have a collective agreement that needs to be respected. You are supported by your Union and if you deem it a threat to your health and safety, you have the right to refuse to work under these conditions (see below). 

-Whatever you do please keep your Steward and the Union office informed!

reception@munaca.com or info@munaca.com 514-398-6565 or 514 -398 5355

LaBeau’s missives:

“We ask staff members to extend the weekend until Tuesday, March 17. No work is expected on Monday and compensation will be maintained. “

“we are working to promote social distancing to reduce the number of individuals who are physically present on our campuses” 

“As per clarifications from the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, McGill will remain operational during the two weeks, but only necessary functions and activities will be provided on campus”

“Where possible, employees will be expected to work remotely, unless otherwise notified”

ARTICLE 19 CLOSING OF THE UNIVERSITY 

19.01 If, as a result of circumstances beyond its control, the University decides to authorise the majority of employees to leave their work before the end of their regular work day, the employees shall not suffer any loss of regular salary because of this. 

19.02 An employee who remains at work, at the specific request of the University, is eligible to take either time off equal to the number of hours actually worked between the authorised time of departure and the end of the regular work day at a mutually agreed time, or payment, at the regular rate, of the hours actually worked between the authorised time of departure and the end of the regular work day. 

What do you know about the right of refusal?**

What can the worker do?

By law, a worker has the right to refuse to do work that presents a danger to him or to another person. He cannot exercise this right if the refusal endangers the life, health or physical well-being of another person (e.g. a firefighter on duty). He must immediately notify his supervisor (or a representative of the employer), and give him the reasons for his refusal to work. He must remain available at the workplace, to perform other tasks, if necessary.

What should the employer do?

The employer summons the worker representative (prevention representative, union representative or designated worker). The employer and the worker representative examine the situation and suggest solutions to make corrections.

If there is a disagreement?

If the employer and the worker’s representative do not agree on the danger or the solution, they may request the intervention of a CNESST inspector. If the worker believes that the danger is still present, he can maintain his refusal and request the intervention of a CNESST inspector. The CNESST inspector determines whether the danger justifies refusal. His decision takes effect immediately. It must be followed even if the parties do not agree. The employer and the worker, or their representative, may however request a review of the decision from the CNESST.

**  For the official text please follow this link. Que savez-vous du droit de refus?

See also Appendix 6 of our Collective agreement. 

http://munaca.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/munaca_ca_2015-2018.pdf

Yours in Solidarity, 

The MUNACA Executive Committee

https://www.chronicle.com/article/What-About-the-Health-of-Staff/248246?fbclid=IwAR0qx3Uqq4o0xXfOkg14OqanitfKzKNSMqs1tUaU2FH8QjLZum5G_nd8M6I

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html

https://www.quebec.ca/en/health/health-issues/a-z/2019-coronavirus/#c46459

www.canada.ca

quebec.ca

ARTICLE 19 CLOSING OF THE UNIVERSITY

Dear MUNACA Colleagues,

I invite you to review Article 19 in the collective agreement:

ARTICLE 19 CLOSING OF THE UNIVERSITY

19.01 If, as a result of circumstances beyond its control, the University decides to authorise the majority of employees to leave their work before the end of their regular work day, the employees shall not suffer any loss of regular salary because of this.

19.02 An employee who remains at work, at the specific request of the University, is eligible to take either time off equal to the number of hours actually worked between the authorised time of departure and the end of the regular work day at a mutually agreed time, or payment, at the regular rate, of the hours actually worked between the authorised time of departure and the end of the regular work day.

In solidarity,

MUNACA Executive

Open Letter to Principal Fortier COVID-19

Dear Principal Fortier,

We the representatives of unions and associations would like to address our concerns
over the way McGill ‘s administration has handled the COVID-19 crisis. We are loath to
say the reaction to this crisis is the same as in the past. The McGill Administration has
conducted itself again with little to no leadership and has treated those that we represent
in a typical paternalistic fashion. The Administration has ignored our legitimate questions and concerns. We do not question the Administration’s right to manage, however, we feel it’s folly to ignore the potential experience and resources of the unions and associations available to you. Best practices would seem to us to dictate that the Administration should
include unions and associations in emergency meetings. By not cooperating and
consulting with us the labour/management relationship worsens, and at a time where all
are affected and need to count on one another for support and assistance. We believe
that all employees should be sent home with pay and those that remain behind to
maintain essential services should be compensated at the appropriate rate.

We appreciate the concern that the Administration has shown towards Students and Faculty but wonder where is the concern for staff!

McGill claims to be a good employer, yet the Administration is ignoring the threat to all our members and their families’ health and safety. It is time to show leadership and concern
for every member of the McGill community.

In light of the announcement by Premier Legault and to avoid confusion and stress we
ask that you make an announcement that the university will be closed except for essential services and that all employees will be paid during the closure mandated by the Premier.

This letter was sent to Principal Fortier by Unions and Associations. Our Collective Agreement provides for staff being paid when the University closes, however, we believe that
the University Administration has the duty to reassure all members of our community. We
also believe that the University has the responsibility to work with all groups as we all
have a stake in what happens here at McGill.

Apologies. le texte francais a suivre
yours as always in solidarity,
Thomas on behalf of the MUNACA Executive Committee
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