Student unions holding high energy barbecues to end six months of legal battle

CREW rallied to campaign for upcoming union vote

La Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), representing six unions at Concordia, held barbecues at each campus on Sept. 13 and 14. Smiling students gathered around poutine and smoked meat food trucks while unions delivered campaign speeches and blasted cheery music.

For Concordia’s Research and Educational Workers union (CREW), these barbecues were the opportunity to speak up about the early October secret ballot vote. Teaching (TA) and Research Assistants (RA) at Concordia will choose their representative union.

This vote is an attempt to end an ongoing six month legal battle between the current Teachers and Researchers Assistant union (TRAC), and CREW, created in March by former TRAC members.

If accredited as the official TA and RA representative, CREW would be parented by CSN. CREW member Basak Tozlu is enthusiastic about the parent union:

“They are really there for their members. They are really just giving out free food right now, for all those people. And I’m so happy to see there are five other unions covered by CSN in this university. And there are only two with PSAC.”

The strong disappointment toward the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), representing TRAC’s union, is the main reason for CREW’s creation.

Tozlu emphasized the importance of the upcoming vote: “We need the majority of [union members] voting in order for the results to be accepted as valid.” CREW must also win a majority of votes to replace TRAC and officially represent TAs and RAs.  In order to vote, TAs and RAs must have been registered as students on April 3 and May 26, 2023, corresponding to the election petitions dates of CREW and TRAC.

Some students are still unaware of their legal rights. Archita Kaushal, member of the Concordia Student Union (CSU), said a TA and international student that passed by the CSU booth at a Concordia tabling fair was unsure of his working conditions. Kaushal described how the TA has to do unpaid prep work for three hours before each class. “This person said that they are affiliated to TRAC and they didn’t know that they could actually bargain for basic labor rights,” Kaushal recalls.

During the winter, CREW won the majority of TA and RA memberships. But since the official union hadn’t filed their Collective Agreement a couple of years ago, PSAC/TRAC had the right to re-file a petition.

According to CSU member Margot Berner, “there hasn’t been this much mobilization from TAs and RAs in a long time.”

The Concordia University Library Employees Union (CULEU), Métier/Trades Union and the Concordia University Professional Employees Union (CUPEU), which all fall under CSN, attended CREW’s festive barbecue to show their support and  express their own upcoming bargain.

Correction in the article:

  • In paragraph three, the end of the sentence has been changed from “CREW, created in March from the Elected executives council of TRAC” to “CREW, created in March by former TRAC members.” We recognize the error we’ve made and we apologize for the mistake.
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