McGill Casual Worker Strike Comes to a Close at Snowden Video Conference

AMUSE marches through Leacock 132 condemning attendees (credit: @elenarazlogova)

In light of the Association of McGill University Support Employee’s (AMUSE) five-day strike, CKUT sat down with one of their executives and bargaining members to address their reasons for their work stoppage from October 29th to November 2nd. 82% of the AMUSE members who showed up for the strike vote voted in favour of strike action on October 20th.

AMUSE, McGill’s contract worker union, represents 1500 workers who work all across campus, including Athletics, the McGill Bookstore, and Enrolment Services. The strike was sparked by an impasse in AMUSE’s negotiations with McGill, specifically on the clause regarding McGill’s Work Study program. However, casual worker dissatisfaction ran much deeper, particularly for employees who were not students. More information in the above embedded interview.

The interview was carried out on Monday, the half-way point of their five-day strike. At that point, AMUSE had disrupted various on-campus operations and events, including sporting events and McGill’s Open House. They had also started a hashtag – #istandwithAMUSE – for people to share their experiences on social media. Or pose for a selfie with a sign.

No employees were hired to scab their work, likely because they had declared an end date to the strike. However, Open House did see various full-time permanent employees and higher-up administrators carrying out their work, such as giving campus tours.

The highest profile event that AMUSE disrupted during their strike was Media@McGill’s video conference with Edward Snowden. Before the talk started, AMUSE marched through the lecture hall, shaming the room for crossing their picket lines. A mixture of cheers, jeers and boos ensued. AMUSE picketed all the entrances, handing out flyers which described their conditions, why not to cross their picket line, and that they did not intend to stand against Edward Snowden’s message. Picketers underscored that their picket lines were to draw attention to Media@McGill’s history of ad hoc, precarious contracts.

Nevertheless, a picket line was set up at the entrance for media. A rally also set up camp among the line of hopeful attendees, pushing the message that their rally was the better activity for the evening (The line for Snowden snaked from Leacock, past the Arts Building, down the stairs to McConnell and up all the way to Trottier).

Ironically, Snowden expressed sympathy for their cause saying that “It’s very very very hard to be the least popular person in the room.” And yet at the same time, he also expressed apprehension about journalists being treated as regular citizens (in the context of recent findings that the SPVM and SQ have been tapping journalist communications for information).

Notably, strike pay was only available to workers who chose to work at least a four-hour strike shift. Strike pay was $53 for a four-hour picket shift if you worked under 20 hours a week and $75 for a four-hour picket shift if you worked over 20 hours a week. If members worked more than one AMUSE job, they were told to combine the hours to calculate the total. Several members expressed to CKUT about their discomfort with being compensated only if they picketed. Interestingly enough, Snowden had brought up the right to being a private citizen in his video conference, specifically the right to understanding how governing bodies made their decisions (“Why shouldn’t we get compensated if we don’t picket?”) and the right to keeping controversial views private (“I don’t want to picket in the rain”).

Casual workers have returned to their posts as of Thursday November 3rd and hope to hear updates with negotiations with McGill that will restart November 10th.

Excerpt from Beyond ‘No War’: A Panel Discussion on Demilitarization and Transformative Social Movements

Photo on 2015-11-13 at 7.19 PM

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On Friday November 13th, Demilitarize McGill hosted the panel discussion “Beyond ‘No War’: Celebrating Resistance to Canadian Nationalism,” in the McConnell Engineering BuildingThe organization exists to “oppose research, recruitment and other activity for military purposes… by ending military collaboration at McGill.” Beyond No War was moderated by the artist-activist Kama La Mackerel, and was held as part of “#Rememberthis : A Series of Events Against War and Militarism.”

Panelists include:
Harsha Walia  : author of Undoing Border Imperialism, co-founder of No One Is Illegal
Mostafa Henaway : community/labour organizer and long-time Palestine solidarity activist
Toghestiy : grassroots land defender and Hereditary Chief of the Wet’suwet’en Likhts’amisyu Clan
Freda Huson : spokesperson and land defender of the Unist’ot’en Camp in British Columbia

This recording was produced by Claudia Edwards.

McGill University Receives Notice of Seizure by Kahentinetha Horn Regarding Stolen Land

(Photo Credits by
(Photo Credit: CBC)

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On September 12, 2015, a Notice of Seizure was delivered to McGill University by Kahentinetha Horn of the Bear Clan, a member of the Kahnawake community. The notice outlined McGill’s use of Mohawk land that had never been sold by the Kahnawake community as well as the outstanding sum of $1.7 billion that McGill had borrowed from the Six Nations’ Trust Fund and had never repaid.

Also outlined in the notice was McGill’s violation of Kaia’nere:kowa, the Great Law of Peace that Kahentinetha abides by. The discovery of military research being conducted by McGill is explained by Kahentinetha as going in direct violation of her governing law, strong motivation in her decision to send the notice.

CKUT’s Victoria Xie spoke with Kahentinetha about the reasoning behind the notice as well as what she is hoping will happen in the future.

McGill University accused of withholding information on Military Ties

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(Photo Credit : Demilitarize McGill Facebook Page)

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CKUT spoke with Cadence O’Neal, an antiwar organizers at McGill. Students claim that McGill University is displaying increasing desperation in its bid to stop students from learning about military research on campus. The McGill administration is shelling out for an expert access-to-information legal team, Raymond Doray, which is going to new lengths to block ATI requests about military research, according to a press release issued this week.

Since 2012, McGill has been in court against a group of students from Demilitarize McGill, who
have been attempting to file Access to Information requests on the university’s ties with
military contractors and weapons companies. Up until now, the university has refused to comply with the requests.

While her request was filed in her first year of university, Cadence will have graduated this year before having access to this information. The request, which pertains to thousands of emails, is being contested by McGill on the grounds that they are not official property of the university. Other students who have filed requests for McGill have also been waiting since 2012. The fact that McGill has blocked these Access to Information Requests until now leads many to suspect their deep involvement in military contracting.

In October, the students will return to court to continue to press for their requests to be honoured.

Presenting “Speaking the Unspoken: A critical examination of McGill’s celebrated employment practices”

Photo: Jill Bachelder, The McGill Daily
Photo: Jill Bachelder, The McGill Daily

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In solidarity with the 84 people who got arrested at last week’s May Day anti-capitalist protest, 27 of whom were given criminal charges, CKUT presents to you a ~critical auditory adventure~ about McGill’s celebrated employment practices. Continue reading

Student strikes ramps up despite police violence


Credits: Stefan Christoff

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Anti-austerity protests and the student strike ramp up in Montreal, with over 50 thousand students on strike across Quebec, we’ll hear about mobilizations happening on the McGill campus.

Cecilia MacArthur brings us more.

CKUT News Collective

Montreal’s Black Community Responds to Ferguson

Photo: McGill Daily
Photo: McGill Daily

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On Monday, November 24, a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, decided not to criminally indict Darren Wilson, a police officer who shot and killed unarmed Black youth Michael Brown back in August. Protests and riots quickly errupted in Ferguson, a suburb of St-Louis, following the court’s decision, and also happened simultaneously in many cities across the US.

On Tuesday night in Montreal, there was a candlelight vigil and protest at the Roddick gates of McGill, organized by the Black Student Network.

Continue reading