Technicians and Library Workers Reach Agreement with Concordia

Unions to Ratify Accords After Four Years Without Contracts

CUUSS-TS President Alex Macpherson speaks to 150 union workers at a protest rally Sept. 3. Photo Erin Sparks

Following 51 months without labour contracts in place, Concordia’s technicians and library support staff unions both came to agreements in principle with the university in the past seven days.

“We are pleased to finally reach an agreement with Concordia,” said Alex Macpherson, president of the Concordia University Union of Support Staff – Technical Sector.

“After 42 months of negotiations, and 51 months since our last collective agreement expired, both sides needed to make compromises to settle on a deal.”

The particulars of the agreements are currently unavailable as all “in principle” agreements are confidential until they are submitted to union members for ratification and subsequently approved by Concordia’s Board of Governors.

Last week, over 150 union members from the CUUSS-TS, the Concordia University Library Employees’ Union and from Concordia’s 12 other unions without contracts in place staged a colourful and boisterous protest outside the Hall Building.

But according to Concordia spokesperson Chris Mota, the display did not play any role in the subsequent accords between the university and its library and technician employees.

To Macpherson, these year-long battles for labour contracts are harmful to Concordia’s work environment.

“Concordia’s administration must recognize the lasting damage that unnecessarily long bargaining causes to the morale of the people who help keep this institution in operation,” he said in a press release.

“Now, however, the final word belongs to our members.”

According to Mota, an impasse in negotiations is sometimes unavoidable.

“Collective bargaining by its very nature is difficult and can become confrontational, though it shouldn’t be,” she said.

“I think that if people around the table are acting in good faith, and both working for something that comes out positively both for the university and the union, you get through that.”

Speaking in general regarding the other 12 unions at Concordia currently without an agreement, Mota says years-long contract negotiations are not in the best interests of any side. Most notably, the union of trade employees for the Sir George Williams campus has been without an agreement since May 2008.

“I think nobody wants negotiations to drag on long—it’s not a good situation,” she said.

“Nobody would say taking a prolonged period of time to come to an agreement is ideal—it’s not, but some of these agreements are very complicated.

“The university is making efforts to speed up the process, and good news is we already have two agreements in the span of a couple of weeks, and of course we [came to an agreement with full-time professors] earlier this year, so we’re making progress,” Mota said.