Friday, October 26, 2007

TRAC: a better future for TA and RA in Concordia University

Two years ago, the idea started as a dream. Few friends were looking forward toward building a new bargaining entity for Concordians. It was an opportunity and a threat at the same time. A lot of research and teaching assistants regarded the act as a new problematic spot to be added to our box of conflicts with the administration. Everybody was afraid of the revolutionary policy of Lajeunesse in Concordia and students expected the worse.

Very few accepted to live up to the challenge and we started collecting the individual signatures to support the demand in front of the Quebec Labor Board. It was a really tough quest and the credibility of the team was not very high. We needed to tackle a lot of traps and overcome plenty of obstacles to reach department by department. A lot of students had personal conflicts with the organizers and a lot of students hate unions and unionization for the very simple fact that they came from countries where unions build a negative impression.

Although I agree with the opposers' point of view, I preferred to continue supporting the union because I believe that anything can be good or bad depending on how it is managed. TRAC faced Murphy's law consequences and what we expected to go wrong, did go wrong. At first, the university resistance lead to cutting off a good percentage of research contracts that were converted into bursaries. Students' opposition was too strong to stop the plan. Friction with the left wing affected the plan as well because the historical performance of left wingers (who jumped to the right side at the expense of the left) destroyed their credibility.

However, we continued to build the confidence with major groups of people who trusted some individuals working on the project, and, consequently, eventually, gradually we realized the dream.


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