Questions & Answers

TA/RA

Am I eligible to be a TA?

Appointments are offered as an incentive to enrollment or awarded by the Department Chair among qualified students that have applied. Qualified candidates must be in good academic standing and not guilty of academic misconduct.

Independent undergraduate students may be ineligible as they do not have any departmental affiliation and most Teaching Assistantships are administered through the departments.

How do I apply for a Teaching Assistantship or Marker contract?

To apply, a student must submit a written request, in the manner required by their department, along with a current curriculum vitae, at least one (1) month prior to the beginning of an academic term. When a student does not apply within this deadline, late applications may be considered.

Each department is required to post electronically, and if possible before the beginning of the academic term, appointments that are expected to remain available during the upcoming academic term, after those awarded to students as an incentive for enrollment. The posting will state the course for which the appointment is available and the requirements for the appointment. The posting period shall be 10 days. Should an appointment become available after the beginning of the academic term, the department may decide to post or may select a candidate amongst the students meeting the requirements who have submitted their application, as mentioned above.

The manner in which appointments are posted electronically may vary with each department. Thus, while the Faculty of Fine Arts submits job postings to an online forum, the Faculty of Arts and Science may contact eligible candidates via email. TRAC recommends that candidates communicate with their respective department to inquire about the availability of appointments.

I have been offered a contract. What are the steps to follow?

Before signing a contract

When a student is assigned a contract, they must meet with the course instructor and fill out a workload form. The workload form is a document that details the tasks to be completed and the amount of hours assigned to each task. Upon agreement of the workload between student and course instructor, the document is to be signed by both parties. Any subsequent modification to the workload document requires the consent of both parties. You can find the workload form template here. Once this document is signed, both parties shall proceed to the signing of an employment contract. According to Article 15.06 of the Collective Agreement “The Employer shall determine the hours of work allocated to a contract taking into account preparation time, contact hours in the lab, classroom or office, and marking time.

Signing an employment contract

A employment contract is legally binding. The Employee is required to complete the work agreed upon in the workload form for the duration of the contract.  Work shall not be assigned before an employment contract is signed by the student, course instructor and department chair. As per Article 15.07, “The University shall inform a Member of the duties to be performed and the hours of work prior to signing a contract. All contracts shall be signed before the work begins.” Be sure to check the start and end dates of the contract. It is the charge of the course instructor to assign work within the contract dates. Employees are not required to work outside of the contract dates. Any hours that remain after the end of a contract shall be considered completed. Course instructors shall not ask that remaining work hours be completed after a contract expires. Immediately after a contract is signed, the Employee shall be presented with a union membership form.

I am being asked to work overtime. What do I do?

All work must be done under contract. You can refuse additional work. It may happen that you use all the hours of the contract before the workload in complete. If you wish to continue doing the work, you should notify the Employer immediately and ask that a new contract be signed to compensate for the extra hours. TRAC strongly encourages our members to track their hours with work log forms found here, to document the work and to communicate with the Employer via email throughout the contract period, which helps justify the need for a new contract. You are not required to continue working if you do not receive a new contract. If you are being pressured into working without a contract, contact TRAC’s Grievance Officer ([email protected]).

What is the difference between Teaching Assistants and Markers?

Teaching Assistants (TA) tasks may include in-class presentations and laboratory demonstrations, leading discussions, assigning and grading work, holding office hours, and communicating with students via email. Markers are expected to grade assignments under the direction of the professor. Email and office hours are sometimes expected but contact with students is minimal.

Currently, the Employer (Concordia University) has instituted a policy whereby if more than 10% of a TA’s tasks are allocated to marking, a separate contract may be issued for the marking portion. Thus, Teaching Assistants may be asked to sign a supplemental Marker contract and paid the Marker rate as per Article 15.05 “Marking duties may be the object of separate marker contracts.”

How do I become a Union Member?

After signing a contract, any TA, RA or Marker shall be presented a Union Membership Form. The form will be sent to the TRAC office and the Employee shall henceforth be considered an active member for 365 days. Please note, If the Employee refuses to complete the union membership form, they are still a union member, entitled to use TRAC services. However, they will not be considered “active” and shall not be allowed to vote in general assemblies or elections. All union members are obligated to pay union dues of 1.7% of wages earned. Failure  to sign the union membership form does not release the Employee from this obligation, according to the Rand Formulain Canadian Labour Law. TRAC encourages all members to sign Union Membership Forms and actively participate in union activities. Above all, democratic participation, transparency and accountability are the foundation of a healthy union.

During the contract period

TRAC strongly recommends that all work hours be recorded and communicated to the Employer. A work log form can be found here. Tracking work hours ensures that work is proceeding according to the workload form. Should the hours worked not correspond with those assigned in the workload form, Employees should communicate with the course instructor to revise the workload form. If extra hours are allocated as a result of revisions, a supplemental employment contract shall be signed. TRAC members are not to be issued payment via timesheets.

Can I take a leave of absence?

Yes, you can request a leave of absence. There are several types of leaves of absence covered under the Collective Agreement, including traveling to academic conferences and preparation for comprehensive exams, for example.

Leave of absence

TRAC members are eligible for leaves of absence, as outlined in Article 18 of the Collective Agreement.

Academic Leave
  1. A Member who is requested to attend an academic conference by her/his academic supervisor shall be granted a leave of absence without pay to participate. If alternative work arrangements can be made with the course supervisor such leave shall be paid leave.
  1. A Member may, at least two weeks ahead of time, request leave to prepare for a comprehensive examination, or the defence of a proposal, thesis or a research report as part of her/his academic training. Subject to agreement with his course supervisor, such leave may be granted without pay for up to one (1) week. If alternative work arrangements can be made with the course supervisor such leave shall be paid leave.
Leave to attend the birth or adoption of a child
  1. A Member may be absent from work for five (5) days at the birth of their child, the adoption of a child or where there is a termination of pregnancy in or after the twentieth (20th) week of pregnancy. The first two (2) days of absence are without loss of pay, if the Member is credited with sixty (60) days of uninterrupted service.
  1. A Member must advise their course supervisor of their absence as soon as possible.
Adoption, Maternity, Parental and Paternity Leave
  1. The Employer shall conform with the Quebec Act respecting Labour standards in all matters related to Adoption, Maternity, Parental and Paternity Leave. See: http://www.cnt.gouv.qc.ca/en/all-standards/index.html.
Bereavement Leave
  1. In the event of the death of a Member’s spouse, child, their spouse’s child, or their father, mother, brother or sister the member may be absent from work for up to five (5) consecutive days, one of which will be without loss of pay.
  2. If a Member must travel outside Quebec, they can be away for a longer period after reaching agreement with their course supervisor.
  3. A Member can be away from work for one (1) day without pay for the death or funeral of a son-in-law, daughter-in-law, one of their grandparents or one of their grandchildren, and the father, mother, brother or sister of their spouse.
Jury Duty
  1. A Member shall be granted leave of absence without pay for the periods where they are required to serve as a juror.

I have had my contract cancelled, been fired or dismissed. What are my rights?

Cancellation of a contract

Article 15.08 of the current Collective Agreement stipulates that “[w]hen the Employer cancels a contract for an administrative reason, the Employer shall, at its discretion, either offer the Member an equivalent appointment or pay the Member one week’s wages in lieu of notice. The Member cannot refuse such appointment.” If you have had a contract terminated, be sure to reach out to TRAC’s Grievance Officer ([email protected]), as what constitutes an “administrative reason” may require clarification.

Dismissal and Discipline

You cannot be fired or dismissed without first being issued verbal and written warnings. You are allowed to have a TRAC  representative present at any disciplinary hearing. – Article 14.01.

No disciplinary measures shall be imposed without just and sufficient cause, of which the burden of proof rests with the Employer – Article 14.03

When can I expect payment for a contract?

You are to be paid no later than 1 month after signing a contract. If you are experiencing delays in payment, please contact TRAC’s Grievance Officer ([email protected]).

Am I eligible for an insurance plan through TRAC?

Our members do not have coverage through their workplace. Students can access insurance plans through the the CSUGSA and Blue Cross (for international students).

I have a workplace issue. What can I do?

The first step is to contact TRAC ([email protected] OR [email protected]). They will take the time to listen and explain what options are available to you. Together, you would decide how to move forward with your case. This process is always free and confidential. Keeping us informed also helps us understand what is happening in the different workplaces at the University.

What is a grievance? 

A grievance is a formal complaint lodged by your Union against the University. The grievance may be generalized, referring to all workers rights (no payments are being issued, for example).They can also be individual grievances that affect only yourself. A grievance is carefully prepared to explain the current situation as well as what solutions the griever is seeking to settle the case. In the case of an individual grievance, the Grievance Officer and Union Representative will take the time to identify the damages and reparations requested. This process is always free and confidential.

When should I file a grievance?

A grievance must be filed no later than 20 business days after becoming aware of the problem or no later than 40 days after the incident has occured. You should file a grievance if you are not able to resolve an issue and wish to have the union intervene. It is always best to notify your Union of any workplace conflict, so that we can assess and assist if necessary. Keeping us informed also helps us understand what is happening in the different workplaces at the University, even if you do not wish to file a grievance.

    The Teaching and Research Assistants at Concordia (TRAC) is a labour union local comprising the teaching assistants and research assistants at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebéc.

    ADDRESS

    PR-204 and PR-205
    2100 MacKay, Montreal, QC H3G 2J1

    PHONE

    514 848 2424 extension 2917

    EMAIL

    [email protected]