A lesson in bargaining

Photo by Madelayne Hajek
Photo by Madelayne Hajek

The Concordia University Faculty Association voted 74 per cent in favour of an unlimited strike mandate, should collective bargaining negotiations fail.

After 15 months of contract negotiations, CUFA voted in favour of a strike mandate, citing that negotiations shouldn’t have lasted longer than approximately six months. It is the first time the full-time members of CUFA have ever voted to hold an unlimited strike mandate which grants CUFA the ability to strike if they provide 48-hour notice.

“We stand strong or tall together,” Lucie Lequin, president of CUFA said. “It is not only members involved in union that matters but collectively members who seek respect for all in regard to working conditions and remuneration.”

CUFA negotiations began on Dec.15, 2011, and the teams have met on more than 35 occasions.

“We are in conciliation,” university spokesperson Chris Mota said. “We remain committed to a fair settlement. We’re working hard for that and we know that CUFA is doing so as well.”

Mota explained that there are still three meetings scheduled this month with CUFA on the 18, 21 and 27 of March.

Lequin hopes to a have a fair and reasonable settlement.

“We are not frustrated only by monetary matters,” said Lequin. “But also by such elements as quality of teaching and workload.”

CUFA met on March 1 for their last conciliation meeting. According to Lequin, the meeting indicated that the negotiations will be ongoing with further discussions but that the chief negotiator for Concordia reached the end of his mandate.

In early November, the Concordia University Part-time Faculty Association voted 95 per cent in favour of an unlimited strike mandate.

“I’m dismayed that the only thing that moves at Concordia is brinkmanship,” Maria Peluso, president of CUPFA said. “I’m not surprised that the full-time faculty has succeeded a strike mandate, something they clearly needed.”

Peluso stated that there are a lot of misunderstandings at Concordia and that there seems to be a costly pattern with negations. CUPFA negotiations lasted seven years, according to Peluso.

“You never stop negotiations with Concordia,” said Peluso. “Even after you sign an agreement, they don’t implement what you sign and this is a problem.”

Eddy Ginocchi, president of the steelworkers union, claims he had problems with the negotiation process at Concordia as well. According to Ginocchi, money is a central issue since workers are underpaid and people who are doing the same jobs elsewhere are getting paid differently.

The contract for the downtown campus employees ended May 31, 2008, while the Loyola contract ended a year later. Previously, the downtown group went through four years of negotiations with the administrative team while Loyola went through a three year process. The next meeting is with the Loyola group on April 25, while the Sir George Williams workers have yet to set a date. Ginocchi said that the administration isn’t very forthcoming with collective bargaining and remains unwilling to discuss it.

“We are wasting time and money with negotiations, they’re always dragging on, and the amount of money being spent is unbelievable,” Ginocchi said.

Concordia Student Union Councillor Gonzo Nieto believes that CUFA’s grievances have not being taken seriously by the university, which is why it has come to a strike mandate.

“Hopefully the university and CUFA come to an agreement on full-time salaries,” Nieto said.


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