Ball’s in Concordia’s Court, Says Union of Unions

ConU Workers Stage Flash Mob Protest

Concordia’s technician’s union has been without a contract for over four years. Photo Erin Sparks
Support staff workers joined with at least three other unions in hopes of pressuring the university for a new contract. Photo Erin Sparks

The lunch break is a sacred time, where workers can recharge themselves with the sweet tastes of freedom and food before getting back to their jobs.

But on Sept. 3, at least 150 members of multiple Concordia unions used their lunchtime to demonstrate against the university’s labour negotiation practices, in hopes of pressuring the administration back to the bargaining table.

Currently 14 of Concordia’s 15 unions are without a labour agreement, with the Concordia University Faculty Association having agreed to a three-year deal March 21 after 15 months of negotiations with the university.

Notably, the union of trade employees for the Sir George Williams campus has been without an agreement since May 2008; library staff, Loyola’s trade employees and the university’s technicians are not far behind, each with over four years without a contract in place.

For Dominique Daigneault, president of the Conseil central du Montréal métroplitain—an amalgamation of all Montreal Confédération des Syndicats Nationaux unions which includes four at Concordia—the message of demonstrators is clear and united amongst the contract-less unions.

“The slogan is extraordinary in this case—‘so close to a deal, so close the deal’— because it is scandalous that the university does not respond to worker’s demands,” she said.

Union leaders say a major hurdle to negotiations is the university’s position on salary increases.

“The university came to the table with a very rigid monetary offer, they left no room for negotiations on that, so that has stalled things for well over a year,” said Alex Macpherson, president of the Concordia University Union of Support Staff – Technical Sector.

“Everything else is off the table, it’s just monetary for most of the unions now, and I believe we’re really close to a settlement, we just need to nudge it a little bit more and we’ll find that the contracts are settled,” he continued, acknowledging that all sides needed to make concessions.

“We’re aware like everybody else of budget cuts in Quebec with the universities and the general state of the economy. We live here, you know?” he said.

“My technicians are working on 2008 dollars; when there’s a fair offer at the table that addresses our buying power and at least is respectful, then we’ll seriously consider it.”

As a matter of policy, Concordia does not comment on ongoing labour negotiations.

For more, see our timeline of Concordia labour negotiations