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Concordia staff take matters into their own hands and request a balanced work life

Union members against returning in-person four days per week decision attend Shuffle 34.

The “True and Fair Hybrid Works” team walked with a purpose at Concordia’s annual Shuffle 34 on Sept. 22, following a rocky battle with the university to find a consensus on hybrid work. 

Concordia Shuffle is an annual walk-a-thon where the university community raises money for scholarships, bursaries and services across campus. Shufflers walk from the Sir George Williams campus to the Loyola campus for a cause important to them, and that may help flourish the Concordia community.

Following the decision announced by the faculties to have staff return to work in-person four days a week back in June, members of the Concordia University Professional Employee Union (CUPEU), created the fundraiser: “True and Fair Hybrid Works” in August. This fundraiser was created to raise awareness on flexible work schedules for staff members at the university. The fundraiser currently has 70 members, composed of union members, students, teachers, and other faculty members who support the movement.

Before the fundraiser, Beata Tararuj, graduate program coordinator for the electrical and computer engineering department, started a petition to oppose the dean’s decision after she had discovered the news through a colleague. The petition was later sent to all of Concordia staff, and now has 700 signatures. “We want to have a voice in decisions that are being made. We don’t want to be just told you have to follow A, B, C, D, E,” she said.

Union members rally together to promote their “True and Fair Hybrid Works” fundraiser for flexible work schedules. Photo by Emma Megelas / The Concordian

Tararuj dedicates her life to helping students. She always makes herself available to anyone who needs guidance, whether it is about their classes or anything else. The “True and Fair Hybrid Works”  fundraiser is her way of giving back to those who inspired her to initially start this movement.

“They’re [international students] close to my heart. They don’t get any awards, they don’t get any scholarships, they don’t get any bursaries and I’m not happy about it.” Tararuj said. “I want to raise awareness that these students absolutely get nothing, and this is why I would like to donate some of this money to them.”

Michael Schmidt is the vice president of communications for CUPEU.

He experienced extraordinary changes in his work ethic during the extraordinary time of the pandemic, and therefore suggests that this transformative method continues into the future. Concordia members—  both outside the movement and implicated in it, expressed the same.

“Being a university, obviously we’re at the forefront of education, the forefront of modernization in the world. It would be amazing if moving forward we can come to an agreement with our employers to find the best possible situation for staff, for students, and the organization as a whole,” Schmidt said.

Valentin Eidelman, programmer and analyst for the Concordia Centre for Digital Arts, explained that they are collectively fighting for flexibility in the workplace, which ensures a balanced work life for everyone.

“I think Concordia thinks that what we expect them to do is let everybody work remotely, and we don’t expect it. We want it to actually be flexible and for managers to be able to decide,” Eidelman said.

Tararuj had hoped the team would win this year’s Shuffle, but they ended in second place with a raised fund total of $12,956.62. The winner was “The Pace Makers” fundraiser, which supports the Concordia University Pensioners’ Association and l’Association des Retraitées et Retraités de l’Université Concordia (CUPA/ARUC), with $14,803.00 collected.

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