MUSA support staff set to strike at 6 a.m. today


McMaster's 1,650 support staff will be on strike as of 6 a.m. tomorrow if no “real progress in negotiations” is made by 2 a.m. on Friday, March 2.

The strike action was communicated to MUSA members in an e-mail sent to them (by the MUSA bargaining team) just after 1 p.m. today (March 1). “The MUSA team is concerned that if no real progress is made by 2 a.m. (Friday, March 2), then we will be asking our membership to take job action. Members should consider that, unless they hear otherwise, MUSA will be on strike as of 6 a.m. on Friday, March 2.”

The MUSA bargaining team announced their strike action at a meeting with the University team this afternoon.

“We're extremely disappointed with MUSA's decision to take this course of action. We came to the table this afternoon at 1:30 p.m. to bargain and now know that the union had both informed their membership and intended to inform the media at 2 o'clock that they planned to go on strike,” says Mark Haley, assistant vice-president human resources and a member of the University's bargaining team. “We know that there are a number of tough issues on the table, but we have worked hard and we remain committed to continuing to work hard to reach a collective agreement.”

Haley is concerned that a number of issues still remain unresolved, but he is particularly disturbed that the union would ask its members to strike when it hasn't presented either its membership or its employer with a wage demand. “Solutions cannot be found on the picket line. These are issues that need to be resolved at the table and MUSA is simply refusing to do this.”

McMaster's initial monetary offer to MUSA was a 10 per cent increase over four years. To date, MUSA has not indicated how much of an increase it is seeking for its members.

The University has contingency plans in place for a strike. “We have based our planning on four principles which will guide our provision of services and operations: the health and safety of all members of the McMaster community, the education and support of students, the delivery of health care and the continuation of core communications infrastructure,” says Peter Sutherland, co-chair of the University's Contingency Planning Group. “Ensuring the health and security of all University employees and visitors to campus is paramount.”

Classes will continue and many services currently available to students will continue to operate, although hours of service may be modified.

The McMaster University Staff Association represents research nurses, clerical and secretarial staff, library assistants, laboratory technicians and student counsellors. The association was certified last year and has been negotiating its first collective agreement with the University for almost a year.