TRAC invigilators demand better wages

TRAC Concordia invigilators are heading to arbitration with Concordia University for better wages. Photo by Mackenzie Lad

Negotiations between Concordia and invigilators’ union head to arbitration

The university’s invigilators’ union, represented by Teachers and Research Assistants at Concordia (TRAC), is launching a public campaign demanding a salary increase.

TRAC’s invigilators have yet to sign their first collective agreement with the university since they  unionized in January 2015.

The university’s latest offer, described by TRAC president Alexandre St-Onge-Perron as a “bad joke,” is $11.43 per hour for invigilators and $12.19 per hour for supervisor-invigilators, who generally have a lot more experience. The $11.43 per hour offer is a 1.6 per cent increase from the $11.25 minimum wage invigilators are currently paid.

“What they are proposing for the year to come is less than the [provincial] minimum wage starting on May 1 [2018], which is unacceptable,” St-Onge-Perron said.

In a statement to The Concordian, university spokesperson Mary-Jo Barr confirmed negotiations were ongoing and that the university “was looking forward to reaching an agreement.”

The decision to start the campaign now is not a coincidence. The two parties, which went through mediation during the spring up until July, are heading into arbitration. St-Onge-Perron said he wants to put pressure on Concordia in hopes the university will be more conciliatory when speaking to the arbitrator. The arbitrator will speak to both sides and consult their demands before making a decision.

TRAC began its campaign with a video posted on the union’s Facebook page on Aug. 29.

Invigilators from the final exam office, who make up the majority of the invigilators, according to St-Onge-Perron, are all paid minimum wage. The TRAC president said some departments pay more than others.

When the collective agreement is signed, St-Onge-Perron noted, the arbitrator will establish a wage floor. St-Onge-Perron explained that, if a department pays less than what the arbitrator decides on, all salaries from that department will increase to the floor level.

Concordia’s invigilators are currently the lowest paid among Montreal universities. Université du Québec à Montréal’s last collective agreement with the Syndicat des étudiant-e-s employé-e-s de l’UQAM (SÉTUE) and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), which represents both TRAC and SÉTUE, established a $16 per hour salary for invigilators in April 2016.

A similar agreement was signed in January between the Syndicat des étudiant(e)s salarié(e)s de l’Université de Montréal (SÉSUM), also represented by PSAC, and the Université de Montréal. The new collective agreement promised $15 per hour for all SÉSUM employees, which represents the school’s invigilators.

St-Onge-Perron, a Concordia student who was elected TRAC president in March, said he hopes the arbitrator will present his decision before Christmas. “According to the information [TRAC] received, we can realistically hope for a decision before [then],” St-Onge-Perron said.

Photo by Mackenzie Lad

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