‘Show Me the Money!’

Concordia Administration and Support Staff to Meet for Contract Negotiations

Contract negotiations between Concordia University and the United Steelworkers union are scheduled to resume on Sept. 22.

The USW, representing Concordia’s technical staff, seeks amendments to pay rates they feel are disproportionate to their training. They also want wage parity with other skilled workers within their industry, which would require a six per cent increase to their salary.

The Steelworkers Union represents Concordia’s 96 electrical, carpentry, maintenance and energy production workers, in addition to many clerical and support staff who have been without a contract for two years.

“Our members want fair wage for their qualifications,” said Eddy Ginocchi, vice president of the Canadian Marine Officers Union of the Steelworkers local 9538, which acts as a Montreal branch of the USW.

“Our pay rates are lower than other workers within our field and have been for a long time. We’re looking for fair treatment.”

Ginocchi remains skeptical that an agreement can be reached for the time being.

“The university has been standoffish,” he said. “They are only willing to have it their way. I don’t see how an agreement can be reached when that is their stance.”

Chris Mota, director of media relations for Concordia University, told The Link that negotiations were continuing “in good faith.”

“The university has been in need of financial reform for years now,” said Mota. “The university is entering into these negotiations with the intention of providing the best deal we can for our employees.”

She stressed, however, that Quebec universities are currently operating at a deficit and more money may be hard to come by.

“There are budget cuts and tuition hikes happening and for now there is a lot of uncertainty.”

The union is attempting to increase pressure on university negotiators, boosting their visibility on campus by wearing neon yellow shirts with the slogan “Concordia, show me the money! Negotiate now!!!”

Workers within the union are unconvinced by the university’s apparent lack of means. Speaking under condition of anonymity, one worker expressed his frustrations with this line of argument.

“They talk as if there is no money to go around, but then they allow an outgoing student president to sign off on a $45,000 loan, without any consultation with the students or the staff or anything. That isn’t need, it’s mismanagement.”

The USW is one of the largest trade unions in Canada, representing 250,000 workers in various fields, including support staff working in Canadian universities nationwide.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 04, published September 7, 2010.