SFU’s all-or-nothing package stalls bargaining

Last week, TSSU reaffirmed our commitment to the bargaining process by agreeing not to picket the 50th Anniversary celebrations on Wednesday in exchange for VP Academic Jon Driver taking over as Chief Spokesperson for SFU Administration. Because SFU Administration could not come to the table on Wednesday, they committed to provide proposals via email during the day. SFU Administration did not provide the promised proposals, and came to the table Thursday morning with an all or nothing package of issues designed to sidetrack bargaining.

Of TSSU’s proposals, SFU Administration showed verbal interest in the following:

  • expanding access to internet accounts from 1 to 3 semesters. This, for example, would allow Sessional Instructors to keep their email thoroughout the length of a grade appeal,
  • delivering TSSU members’ work-related mail to their place of work, important for members who work away from their home department,
  • clarifying that the Intellectual Property Policy of SFU applies to TSSU members’,
  • beginning a process to find shared space for TSSU and other employee groups to meet with their members at Surrey and Vancouver campuses,
  • establishing payment of wages provisions in the Collective Agreement to guarantee members’ rights to timely and understandable wage statements as required by BC Employment Law,
  • delivering money from TSSU’s Childcare Bursary into the hands of parents

On each of these issues, TSSU has moved significantly from our opening positions to accomodate the concerns of SFU Administration while protecting our members. On Thursday Morning, SFU Administration responded with a counter-offer on these six issues, asking us to remove our informal problem solving mechanism with Department Chairs and their designates by involving Human Resources at each step.

SFU Administration has proposed that TSSU call HR’s Director of Labour Relations every time a member brings union representation to a problem solving meeting (the same Director who has been stalling bargaining with TSSU for 16 months). This proposal would end TSSU’s practice of respecting the right of Department Chairs to choose when to involve Human Resources, and has been tabled without any explanation for its necessity.

85% of the problems brought to the union by our members are solved without Human Resources’ intervention. The remaining 15% of problems are pushed toward arbitration by Human Resources, costing the Union and the University thousands of dollars.

SFU Administration is telling TSSU that they will only provide the basic necessities required for members to complete their work if we undermine Department Chairs, stall our grievance process, and expand the portfolio of Human Resources. This is the third time SFU Administration has tried to package this cynical proposal, in an attempt to force us to capitulate. This is not the behaviour of an Employer who wants to get to a deal.

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