General assembly a mum, passive affair—despite controversial report
The Teaching and Research Assistants of Concordia union held a special general assembly on Monday, Jan. 20 to tackle the recent findings of a report that recommended an overhaul of their executive council.
“The situation is a bit ambiguous,” said former Mobilization and Communications Officer Robert Sonin, who alongside his fellow executives complained about the president back in September on charges of harassment. “We don’t know what happens now because the report is going to move on anyways.”
The report stirred tempers when it was released at the end of December and obtained by The Concordian not long after. It detailed the conclusion of an official investigation by TRAC’s parent union, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), the conclusions understandably irked the executives who’d lost their jobs.
The report found the president abused his power and relieved him of his position, but made the recommendation to relieve the other executives as well because of a toxic workplace atmosphere. When the executives made the report public and started speaking to the media, PSAC sent them a notice threatening legal action unless the electronic report was ‘retrieved’ and the conversation ceased, arguing it was PSAC property and would be discussed at Monday’s general assembly.
When contacted by The Concordian last week, PSAC issued a statement saying no further comment would be offered.
“I don’t know why they would pass it by the locals if they’re not going to use it. They gave it to a room of people who don’t really know anything except for the report,” added Sonin.
The recommendations were voted down 17 to 40, but the report is nonetheless going to be sent to the regional council and the national board of directors.
“The way the PSAC process works is—I don’t want to say it’s entirely irrelevant, but it’s really not relevant. It’s relevant in the sense the local has expressed its opinion, but the reporters and investigators hold the weight.” Sonin said, calling the meeting an act of rubber-stamping.
Sonin said the general assembly mostly revolved around presenting the report and the qualifications necessary for holding office.
“This meeting was only to receive the report,” he said. He also stated the PSAC representative reiterated the official stance that TRAC members were not to share the findings.
The elections are set to happen for the first week of March, at the earliest. Until then TRAC is essentially dormant, leaving important matters at a standstill, such as the pay negotiations that were supposed to have started in November.
According to PSAC rules, members under investigation weren’t allowed to speak on their behalf, so Sonin could not speak at the event.
He’s now uncertain of how to proceed, a sentiment his fellow executives probably share.
“The report for the most part is accurate, I think they came down with a reasonable account of what went on. I would have rather seen the executive continue and I would have hoped they would have done all this in a much more timely way. The result is our complaints were vindicated.”
Sonin continued: “Right now I’m totally dissatisfied with the way PSAC handled this. It’s bizarre to me people who complained lose their job over it. In the best of all worlds you want a report like this to lay the blame where it rests, and I don’t think it did that. They need a better way to handle harassment.”
As the GA finished late Monday night, The Concordian was unable to get comment from various attendees, but will update the online version of this article with additional viewpoints as they come in.