Technical Staff pickets hall building

Workers demand raise to match cost of living increase

Concordia’s technical staff demanded salary increases and an end to contract negotiations that have gone into overtime in a demonstration at Concordia’s downtown campus on March 22.

Chanting “So-So-Solidarity,” the group of approximately 45 workers wound their way around the Hall and Library buildings during what would otherwise be a normal day at work for them.

“We met with the university and basically they’re offering us peanuts,” said Joe Luciano, a representative from the technical staff’s trade union, the United Steel Workers local 9538.

The union is currently working under a contract that expired May 31, 2008, and they have not received a pay raise since 2007.

“The salary adjustments [that the Concordia administration offered] us do not reflect the cost of living,” said Luciano. “We’re understaffed, underpaid and buildings are popping up everywhere. The surface area of the [university] is expanding every year and we have more and more work.”

He added that, despite an expanding workload, the university is not hiring new employees.

The union is also claiming that university negotiators are working to turn union members against each other.
Eddy Ginocchi, the vice president of USW local 9538, told the The Link that some union workers have 76 hours of bankable sick days while other have 69 hours. He says the university said they would make things fair by averaging the sick hours to 72. In other words, some would get an increase in hours while others would see a decrease.

“That’s ridiculous,” he says. “[The university negotiators] are fantastic at pitting people against each other, and this is what they’re doing.”

Ginocchi said there are currently no plans for strikes by the workers. He added, though, that a vote will be held this Thursday to decide whether or not the university’s technical staff should strike.

Concordia, on the other hand, is remaining mum on the issue, citing a policy of not discussing contracts while they are under negotiation.

Chris Mota, director of media relations for Concordia, did say that there are further meetings scheduled between the workers and the university sometime in April.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 28, published March 29, 2011.