TRAC Negotiating New Collective Agreement
Concordia Meeting TRAC to Discuss Wages, Hiring Process
“Negotiation is coming,” said Gonzalo Renato Quintana Zunino, who was dressed as Jon Snow, from the HBO series Game of Thrones.
The Teaching and Research Assistants at Concordia, who has been without a collective agreement since April 30, 2016, is getting ready to re-enter negotiations with Concordia next week for a new agreement. It will be retroactive, spanning the 2016-2017 academic year until the 2018-2019 academic year.
In order to raise awareness of the issue, TRAC collectively decided to have Zunino, the Bargaining Officer for the TRAC, dress up as Jon Snow, in front of Concordia’s administration building, and list their demands in the upcoming negotiations.
“Negotiations are dark and full of terrors, but together we will pass winter and win our battle,” added Zunino.
TRAC and Concordia begun negotiations in early October, and are set to go back to the negotiating table on Nov. 10, 2017. The issues this time are wages, working conditions, hiring process, and split contracts.
The president of TRAC, Alexandre St-Onge-Perron, wants undergraduate research assistants to be paid more. They’re current rate is $14.09 an hour.
“We believe [that] no work in Quebec should be paid less than $15 an hour,” said St-Onge-Perron. “So for RAs we want better wages. It shouldn’t be under $15, but I also believe it should be more than $15. These people are doing very important academic jobs.”
St-Onge-Perron said the TRAC wants a transparent hiring process, adding that the different departments and faculties all have different processes for hiring teaching and research assistants, and can therefore be unclear.
Another sticking point for TRAC are split contracts, which means that a teaching assistant can have different contracts as a demonstrator and as a marker. Demonstrators are paid $24.93 per hour, while markers are paid $20.21 an hour.
It is currently unclear when the contract negotiations will end, but St-Onge-Perron said that current negotiations have been going well so far, so he hopes that an agreement can be made before the end of the academic year.
“We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “If there’s need to continue in the next year, we will, but I think both Concordia, and TRAC has an interest in having it sooner rather than later.”
As for dressing up as Jon Snow to raise awareness, St-Onge-Perron said that it was a collective idea from TRAC to pull the stunt.
“We were in negotiations and mobilization training sessions, and the trainer said to be creative [and] find a way to actually attract people’s attention,” said Zunino. “Game of Thrones is very visible and everyone watches it, [so] it combines very well with the character Jon Snow, who is a good negotiator in the show.”
“Why not make it fun if we can,” he added.