Picture yourself in this scenario: You’ve received an assignment as a teaching assistant for a professor in your department. You sign a contract and a workload form that spells out which tasks you are responsible for as a TA, and how many hours you’ll be dedicating to each one. But as the semester progresses, you realize you’re actually putting in more hours than what you signed up for, and the jobs you’re actually completing look quite different than what was written in your workload form. What do you do next?
That’s just one of many situations that can arise in a TA- or RA-ship, notes TRAC president Nader Jafari Nodoushan. TRAC - which stands for Teaching and Research Assistants at Concordia (TRAC Union / PSAC Local 12500) - is the labour union which comprises the teaching assistants and research assistants at Concordia.
TRAC is responsible for negotiating the working conditions and pay rates, and to defend the labour rights of its members (the TAs, RAs and invigilators at Concordia) under its Collective Agreements.
Nodoushan, along with his colleagues Seied Mohammad Langari and Gounash Pirniya, is leading the GPTK795 - Concordia TA and RA Essentials workshop. Their goal? Making sure all TAs and RAs at Concordia know where to turn and what to do in situations like the one described above.
They’ll take you through what you should know at each step of your TA- or RA-ship, from when open positions should be posted by the department (usually 10 days for TAs, 5 days for RAs), to when an employer can and can’t cancel a contract, and more.
The best way to understand your rights as a TA or RA, Nodoushan notes, is by getting to know the union - whether as a member of a committee, by coming by one of their social events or mobilizations activities, or attending a workshop like this one. The union posts events and updates on their Facebook page.
Meanwhile, if you’re in a situation where you think your labour rights are not being respected, you can contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org (all inquiries are kept confidential) or visit their office at 2130 Bishop MI-207.
Check our page for upcoming workshop sessions.