ACTION AT MCGILL
Numerous studies suggest that the Quebec minimum wage of $10.55/hr is not adequate to provide a full-time worker with basic necessities. At McGill, many employees do not have full-time hours, a regular schedule, or benefits. Additionally, many of these casual workers have large student debt and have to work multiple jobs to cover their living costs. Recently, McGill instituted a hiring freeze on regular positions, meaning that full-time employees with benefits are slowly being replaced by casual employees with unpredictable hours and little job security.
McGill administrators suggest that austerity measures like cutting departmental budgets and keeping wages low allow the school to maintain it’s high quality of education. However, underpaying employees and maintaining precarious working conditions on campus only serves to make higher education at McGill less accessible than ever. Futhermore, student services have suffered heavily from these cuts.
At the same time that the administration insists that the budget is too tight to pay workers a fair wage, the highest paid employees and administrators continue to receive grossly inflated raises and pension packages. While managers and administrators have seen increases of 3-4% each of the past 6 years, casual workers receive only a 1% increase each year. We insist that despite recent budget cuts, McGill is more than capable of paying its workers a fair wage.
The fight for a $15/hr minimum wage was born in the New York City fast-food industry in 2012, as minimum-wage employees working full-time were unable to afford basic necessities without working multiple jobs or seeking government assistance. The movement spread quickly to a number of other low-wage industries across the United States as Employees began to stage one-day strikes and walking off the job en masse. In addition to poverty wages, these employees and activists faced inconsistent hours, limited job security, and were often punished for attempting to unionize by having their hours cut or being fired altogether.
The campaign quickly gained momentum. In 2014, Seattle and San Francisco became the first municipalities to pass legislation to raise their minimum wages to $15/hour. On April 15th, 2015, workers joined together in more than 200 cities across the country in one of the largest low-wage protests in the history of the United States. Shortly thereafter, Los Angeles city council voted in favor of the raise, becoming the largest city yet to sign on.
In Canada, workers and politicians are taking notice of the changes happening south of the 49th parallel. In 2013, labour organizations in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario all began their own campaigns to raise their provincial minimum wages and to protect their workers from precarious, part-time, and temporary labour. Soon after the Alberta New Democratic Party was elected in May of 2015, the province became the first to plan to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2018.
From the beginning, the fast-food workers' movement has insisted that low-wage exploitation is inherently tied to systematic racism and sexism, and that the fight for a fair wage is central to fights for social justice of all kinds.
Inspired by the same ideals that have driven the fast-food workers’ strikes,15 & Fair McGill sees a living wage as a basic human right, and poverty wages as one expression of systemic injustice. As such, the goal of our campaign is a $15 minimum wage for all workers at McGill, from casual support staff to independently contracted employees to academic labourers like graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. We also maintain that, as marginalized groups are grossly overrepresented among minimum wage workers, the fight for fair wages is crucial to the struggle against all forms of oppression.