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Vol. 75/No. 47      December 26, 2011

(front page)
1,700 McGill Univ. strikers
win, now ‘together, stronger’
Militant/Katy LeRougetel
Picket line by workers at McGill University in Montreal Dec. 2, three days before strikers approved contract with wage increases. Fight won support from students and other unions.

MONTREAL—The 1,700 support staff at McGill University are back at work after more than 1,250 voted Dec. 5 by a 72 percent margin to approve a contract that included wage increases of between 8 and 16 percent during the five-year collective agreement. The vote ended their first-ever strike, which began Sept. 1, against McGill.

The union website proclaims “Together, stronger!” Workers who spoke to the Militant echoed that sentiment.

“This has been a life-changing experience,” said Martha Elvir. “If I see someone on strike now, I would look at them differently and show them support.”

“Going on strike was the only way to stand up against the administration,” said Lam Luday, who has worked 23 years in the biochemistry department. “We didn’t have a choice and we are stronger now.”

Lisa Mayes, a young worker at McGill, said the experience had “strengthened the individual. We became stronger in our self-awareness, what we are capable of doing. You could definitely see how important it is to have a union. Over the next five years we’ll be paying attention to whether McGill honors the agreement.”

The support staff are members of the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association, which has ties to the Public Service Alliance of Canada. They include IT technicians, clerical workers and library assistants. They had been working without a contract since November 2010 with salaries and conditions inferior to other universities in Quebec.

Early on in the strike courts granted McGill injunctions banning picketing within 80 feet of many campus locations and picketing at any off-campus events.

“The court injunctions really got people mad,” said Jo-Ann Bader, with 40 years in the medical department.

The struggle won support among students on the campus, a number of whom wrote articles backing it. Students from across Quebec welcomed hundreds of strikers when they participated in a 20,000-strong student demonstration against tuition hikes Nov. 10.

Several unions organized solidarity picket line visits. Construction workers at the new hospital site, which will be part of university facilities, refused to cross a one-day picket line organized near the worksite by the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association.
Related articles:
Locked-out tire workers in Ohio build support rally
Rally slams Manitowoc Cranes’ union busting
Striker: ‘If we don’t stop it here, it will spread’
Illinois miners win court ruling in fight for union
Bosses get off easy in 2010 death of 29 W.Va. miners
Minn. tank trailer workers strike against ‘outsourcing’
Licorice workers in fight ‘for long haul’
Striking limestone workers receive solidarity
Pa. Steelworkers return to jobs with heads held high
Union power key to defend life and limb
‘Keep covering our struggles’  
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