Union on TRAC

Barbara Black

Research and teaching assistants at Concordia have their own bargaining unit. As the result of certification votes taken last summer and fall, the Quebec Labour Board recognizes the employees as a union. There are in fact two collective bargaining units working together as TRAC, the Teaching and Research Assistants of Concordia.

Véronique Allard, a master’s student in Anthropology, and Adrian Dumitru, a master’s student in Political Science, both have experience as research assistants. They have been acting as the provisional executive committee, but they intend to call a general assembly to elect an executive and a subcommittee to draw up bylaws.

“We hope to have delegates from every department,” Allard said. “Before we can legitimately make demands, we will have to collect information, which will probably take several months. Certification was the first step on a long road.”

TRAC is waiting for a list of current assistants from the university. Allard said the union expects to represent between 1,500 and 2,000 employees.

Teaching and research assistants are already unionized at a number of universities, including McGill, Carleton and York. Like the union at Université du Québec à Montréal, which formed two years ago, TRAC is affiliated with the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). Université Laval has also just unionized, and will also be affiliated with PSAC. “It’s a trend,” Allard said.

One of the main motivators for forming a union was the wide variety of conditions under which teaching and research assistants work at the university. “Of course, it’s a transient work force, but we need mechanisms to ensure that students are well represented and treated fairly.”

Speaking for the university, Director of Employee and Labour Relations Maurice René de Cotret said he looked forward to working with TRAC and congratulated its members on having achieved certification.