So far, our forward motion has been applied towards building consensus amongst the various organs of Montréal society. Regarding the minimum wage, the civil society of Montréal is now speaking in sympathetic harmony. Groups representing producers from across the industrial spectrum -- precarious, and stable; immigrant, and citizen; francophone, anglophone, and allophone. And these are joined by groups representing consumers such as tenants and students.
To fully appreciate this accomplishment, it is enough to consider that at the centre of each repressive social structure is a support-column representing an absence of social unity about a program of reform. Weakening that column is no triviality when we think about how expensive it is just to articulate an analysis and express it to our neighbours. Consider, in the simplest financial terms, how much it costs a person in unpaid labour and lost work hours to get informed, craft a platform, run a campaign, elect social representatives, and force them to stick to their program. In this way, the establishment makes political participation virtually impossible unless you’re in some kind of union or a fanatic. It is no mystery who benefits from such an arrangement.
Inevitably, every newly minted solidarity network has to face tough questions of strategy and action. To spark some thought on the topic, here are three uber vintage economic actions that people have used to achieve improvements in wages and conditions in far more hostile epochs than the one we face today: (note that I am not suggesting anybody should take on any one of these actions without due reflection and support)
1 - The Label: Entails creating a mark or emblem of our movement and stamping any product or service produced under conditions of 15 and Fairness. Secondarily, it means create an awareness amongst consumers to buy only those goods which bear our label. You’ve probably seen this tactic used effectively by organic food producers who wish to mark their produce as having a greater value beyond its price tag.
2 - The Boycott: Employers that refuse to meet conditions to receive our label ought to be reminded that under conditions of solidarity, people are capable of voting with their money in extremely effective ways.
3 - Sabotage and Work-to-Rule: For companies that are not straightforwardly affected by boycotts, creative sabotage is a the name of the game. Some ideas include shabby work for shabby pay, slow communication, not following optional workplace rules, only carrying out tasks that are explicitly stated in your contract, ceasing work during breaks and unpaid extended hours, and submitting paperwork that is full of errors are just some things you can do.
If you would like to learn more about $15 and Fairness at McGill University and across Montréal, consider joining us at our upcoming barbeque!
When: May 1, 2016 BBQ @ 11:00AM - 1:30PM
Where: Parc Lafontaine, corner Rachel and Parc Lafontaine.
Followed By: a march at 2PM starting at Mont Royal Metro
Why: On May 4, 1886 workers in Chicago gathered to demonstrate for the eight-hour day and were brutally smashed up by police. The crackdown and subsequent executions and arrests were so cruel that it caused an international reaction that is still reverberating. On May 1 we gather to remember and to demonstrate for the needs of the moment.
--We'll also be joined by these fabulous organizations:
✔Organisation populaire des droits sociaux - Région de Montréal
✔Syndicat des Employé(e)s du Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal
✔The Association of McGill University Research Employees - AMURE
✔The Association of McGill University Support Employees - AMUSE
✔Mouvement Action-Chômage de Montréal
✔Le Collectif Opposé à la Brutalité Policière
✔Pompier de Rosemère
✔SAQ Syndiqué CSN
This blog is a new initiative of the 15 and Fair McGill Coalition. Curated by MM and MB. This post written by MB.