TSSU returns to the table and offers path to settlement. SFU Admin digs in.

After our members rejected SFU Administration’s “final” offer last week, TSSU’s Contract Committee returned to the table, offering SFU Administration a path towards settlement. TSSU provided an opportunity for SFU Administration to keep its earlier promises to withdraw concessions and bring an end to the strike through binding arbitration (final offer selection) as proposed by Vince Ready. SFU Admin has not responded positively; we remain on strike and have updated our instructions for job action. We encourage members to review these instructions and ask their stewards or colleagues if they have any questions.

When we returned to bargaining, TSSU narrowed our proposals to our core issues and monetary matters; this repeated a move we made during mediation which SFU Administration had ignored. In order to recommend our members approve the binding arbitration process as proposed by Vince Ready, we told SFU Administration we needed a single sign of good faith. Just as TSSU had already done by narrowing our proposals, we asked SFU Administration to keep the commitments they made during mediation:

  • withdraw SFU Admin’s list of concessionary proposals, and
  • sign off on their counter-proposal on the Childcare Fund and Union Facilities.

On Tuesday September 29, we a received response to our pathway to settlement; rather than agreeing to the process proposed by Vince Ready, SFU Administration has come up with a different process that usurps the power of binding arbitration to settle the dispute.

For more information, and to be involved in the discussions moving forward, members should attend:

MMC & Strike Committee Joint Meeting
Thursday, Oct 1, 2015 1:30pm-3:30pm in AQ 5118

Weekly Greater Committee Meeting
Tuesday, Oct 6, 2015 11:30am-1:30pm location TBA

SFU Admin Threatens Lock-out & Disruption of Education

Following a NO vote of TSSU members of SFU Administration’s “final package”, TSSU’s Contract Committee has informed SFU Admin that we are ready to return to the bargaining table. However, they have yet to agree to come to the table.

TSSU has now learned that SFU Admin is considering a plan to move us further away from a settlement, through the use of “economic weapons” such as a lockout. A lock-out of university teachers will only lead to lengthening the dispute and serious disruption of the education of students. SFU Admin may also be considering targeting their “economic weapons” on our most vulnerable members by cutting their benefits or pay. TSSU members will not be intimidated and are committed to finding solutions to our core issues. The road to a fair and timely settlement with the most vulnerable employees of the University is at the bargaining table.

TSSU wants to get back to bargaining to reach a fair collective agreement and settle this labour dispute. The use of “economic weapons” will only serve to delay settlement and the return of grades from both this and last semester.

SFU Admin has a clear choice between two options: a) return to the bargaining table and bargain constructively; or b) extend and expand the labour dispute by using “economic weapons” against our members.

Members are encouraged to contact their stewards or tssu@tssu.ca for more information.

We encourage all members of the SFU Community to contact the SFU Administration at driver@sfu.ca to urge them to choose negotiation.

TSSU Membership rejects employer offer

Yesterday TSSU members had their say on SFU’s “final package” and over 86% voted NO. This is yet another strong show of support from our membership as we raised our voices in solidarity. The membership has voted NO cuts to the ELC/ITP Program, NO to removing rights of return for sessionals and NO ignoring the problems of access to work and increasing workloads for TA/TMs.

TSSU’s Contract Committee has informed SFU Administration that we are ready to return to the bargaining table as early as Wednesday afternoon. We hope that this strong rejection from our members will motivate SFU Administration to move toward settlement. Our core issues remain to be addressed:

  • Access to benefits and fair working conditions for ELC/ITP instructors
  • Seniority for Sessional Instructors
  • Access to work and protection from overwork for Teaching Assistants & Tutor Markers
  • Agreement to follow BC Law on on Health and Safety and Payment of Wages
  • A fix to the childcare fund to get money into the hands of parents

Please join us to celebrate the NO vote!

Friday Sept 25, 2015 4:30pm-late
Highland Pub – SFU Burnaby Campus
Free Appetizers!

To help plan further job action, members should attend the next Greater Committee Meeting on Monday September 28th from 5:30pm-7:30pm at a room TBD. See the calendar on TSSU.ca for updates.

Full details of SFU Admin’s Final Package

You can find a complete copy of the Employer’s Final Package here.

VOTE Tuesday Sept Sept 22 on Surrey, Vancouver and Burnaby campuses!

What happens if we vote NO

Job action continue and when the employer finally feels ready to bargain, then we go back to the bargaining table. VP Academic Jon Driver has already described an offer that’s much better than the current package, but for some reason his committee instead chose to force this “final package” on us. Your collective expression of power by voting NO will tell SFU Admin that you demand better.

What happens if we vote YES

Job action is over and we are stuck in a 5 year contract with significant concessions that would hurt many union members and also significantly increase costs for TSSU.

What can I do to help?

Find 5 other people and tell them to come to polls as well! If you’re willing to mobilize people, just drop by AQ 5129 (TSSU Office) grab some flyers and go hand out flyers to members. We need every member to vote!

Contract Committee Summary

The TSSU Contract Committee has completed an analysis of the entire package, page by page. That analysis is below. The pages indicated in the analysis correspond to the pages in the PDF. For more discussion on this package, please attend the Special General Meeting:
Wednesday September 16, 2015
11:30am – 1:30pm
MBC 2290
Those who are unable to attend the meeting may leave comments below and the Contract Committee will make our best efforts to respond to them over the coming days.

Executive Summary

SFU’s package contains a whole range of takeaways or cuts to the rights of our members. These cuts hit all sections of our membership, but are primarily targeted at Sessional Instructors and ELC/ITP Instructors. The package would remove rights like right of first refusal for Sessionals without replacing them with any form of seniority and substantially reduce benefits and seniority for ELC/ITP Instructors. In addition, the package imposes new direct costs on TSSU, which would have to be funded out of member dues. In exchange for these cuts, the only real improvement in the package is the fix to the Childcare Fund that would actually get money into the hands of children.
The monetary proposal is the exact same as the Public Sector Employer’s Council (PSEC) Mandate that has been set by the Provincial Government. SFU’s monetary package was tabled at the end of the mediation session without the opportunity for TSSU to table or discuss their monetary proposal or the ability to address where else in the employer’s package there were substantive monetary cuts. There are no improvements to benefits and no solutions to our key core issues for TAs, TMs, Sessional Instructors or ELC/ITP Instructors. TSSU’s Contract Committee recommends rejection of this final offer package from SFU.

Monetary Offer Pages 1-2

The monetary offer contains two options. The first option is the standard Public Sector Employer’s Council (PSEC) Mandate that has been set by the Provincial Government. The offer is for a 5 year agreement with most of the wage increase (4% out of the total of 5.5%) delayed until after March 2017. This means our membership would see a total of a 1.5% wage increase from May 2013 to March 2017 – an almost 4 year span, when inflation over that period will likely be in the range of 5%.
The second option delays two of the wage increases slightly and takes the savings from these delays and places them into a professional development fund for ELC/ITP instructors. Rather than giving these instructors the same benefits that their administrative colleagues enjoy, SFU Administration proposes to create a small pool of money that TSSU has to administer. This fund is only good for 3 years, and after those three years no more money would be put into the fund. Unlike benefits, this fund is essentially a one-time payoff.

Economic Stability Payment – Pages 3-6

This fund is designed to provide no money to TSSU members, but is meant to be a PR move designed by the government to sell the meagre 5.5% wage increase to public sector workers. The fund works like this: a government designated panel makes an economic GDP forecast for the next year. These panels tend to forecast high, because the budget is set off these forecasts and a low forecast would result in a deficit budget. Then if the forecast for GDP growth (typically forecast as 1-2% for BC) is low by more than a whole percentage point (i.e. the panel says the growth will be 1% and it comes in at 2%) then TSSU members would get an additional 0.5% wage increase.
UBC’s faculty association has done a thorough analysis of this “payment” showed that, had this payment been in effect over the last decade it would have resulted in negligible wage increase. You can see their full analysis here.

Force TSSU to Notify SFU immediately upon changes to the executive – bottom of page 7

TSSU is currently required to give notice of its executive and stewards (Chief Steward and ELC/ITP stewards are the only ones who count as stewards here) to SFU regularly. SFU has proposed to change this to 2 working days without any justification. During busy times, if the union was delayed in sending this information, then Human Resources, could, and probably would, file a grievance against TSSU. This proposal adds more administrative burden on TSSU when no problem has been identified. We regularly notify SFU of changes to our executive without complaint from them.

Implement the law on paying workers for being on health and safety committees – Page 8

Under BC Health and Safety Law, an employer is required to compensate health and safety members for sitting on committees. SFU Administration has refused to compensate TSSU members for these duties and has now proposed to come into compliance with the law. TSSU is glad that SFU has finally shown willingness to follow the law allowing us to avoid filing another WorkSafe BC complaint against them.

Union facilities: Bulletin Boards – Page 9

SFU Administration has agreed to a minor amendment that clarifies that we will get bulletin boards in common spaces on all campuses, not just Burnaby. This is a small improvement that SFU should have implemented when they created these campuses.

Union Facilities: Mail – Page 9

The collective agreement contains old language that mentions University mail service only at Burnaby and Harbour Centre Campuses. The language has been genericized to reflect what is already common practise at all current campuses. It is nice that the language is genericized, but this provides no on the ground improvement for members.

Don’t give TSSU members a collective agreement – Page 9

Currently Collective Agreements must be distributed by the employer to all members. This ensures that members have access to the rights and benefits and also signals to the employee that the CA binds both the employer and the employee. Members who prefer electronic copies can, of course, have the option of returning their copies to the department for reuse. The requirement to distribute collective agreements to members was recently confirmed by TSSU’s victory in a grievance with the employer. The employer now wants to only have to distribute a link to the collective agreement via email and only have physical copies of the collective agreement available through contacting HR. We know members won’t be willing to contact HR in order to get Collective Agreements. This concession would result in additional costs and work for the union to distribute Collective Agreements and a reduction in the ability of members to access their rights.

Remove the ability to request a Board of Arbitration – Page 9

Arbitration is the final step in the process by which disagreements over the collective agreement are resolved. Currently the collective agreement allows for a Board of Arbitration (one arbitrator selected by each side) which can be replaced by a single arbitrator if SFU and TSSU agree to do so. This change would remove the ability to have Board and replace the process with a single Arbitrator. TSSU has run into many problems recently with SFU Administration refusing to agree to any arbitrators, so the option to have a Board is more efficient than the sometimes many month process of finding a mutually agreeable arbitrator. This change removes an option for a Board of Arbitration from the Collective Agreement and is part of a pattern of making the grievance procedure more onerous on TSSU.

Require TSSU to Call HR’s lead negotiator, Chris Hatty, every time we want to meet with a Department Chair. – Page 10

Our members solve problems with their supervisor every day, be it changing tutorial due to class conflict or arranging substitution in the event of a conference. The employer has recognized that “85% of problems get solved without HR hearing about it” and they see this as a problem. To solve this “problem” the employer has proposed that TSSU be required to personally contact Chris Hatty. This concession would completely remove TSSU’s ability to solve problems with departments. It would mean HR would interfere in the 85% of problems that are solved every day without their intervention. This concession is really about trying to prevent TSSU from finding on–the–ground solutions that work for departments and our members and instead create a huge number of grievances that would cost TSSU substantial amounts of time and money to fight.

Time Use Guidelines – Page 11-15

SFU has proposed to remove the workload review form from the back of the Time Use Guideline (TUG). In the last round of bargaining we agreed to the workload review form but wanted it on the TUG so that members would see it at the start of the semesters and so they might know to ask for their workload review later in the semester. Many members have experienced that workload reviews are simply not performed, in violation of the Collective Agreement and this removal is another effort to ensure our members don’t find out about their rights.

Mixed Delivery Teaching Models Memorandum Page 15-16

A memorandum of agreement is something that is added to the back of the Collective Agreement and represents an agreed interpretation or addition to the Collective Agreement that is not fully integrated into the language. This memorandum is SFU Administration’s offer to deal with hybrid classes. It has actually been drafted with such poor language that it would potentially result in less pay for those currently working as Tutor Markers and would do nothing to address the increasing use of hybrid courses, which currently fall within a gap between the TA and TM world in the Collective Agreement. This memorandum does nothing of use and is worded extremely poorly. The poor wording means it has the potential to result in significant pay cuts for members.

TA Priority Change – bottom Page 16 -17

In line with TSSU’s current practise, SFU Administration has removed the arbitrary base unit caps that reduced the TA appointment priority of graduate students once they taught a certain number of base units. TSSU is glad that SFU has finally agreed to remove these arbitrary caps, but this offer does nothing to address the key operational problems with TA priority.

TA Merit Based Scholarship Language Page 17

In the last round of bargaining SFU Administration agreed to put a clarification in the priority language that, if selecting between two otherwise graduate student applicants, the one without support from merit based scholarships (e.g. NSERC’s, SSHRC’s etc) would be hired first. Earlier this summer SFU agreed with TSSU’s proposal to put a minimum threshold on this funding so a $50 scholarship would not affect a student’s priority. This change reflects that earlier agreement.

Post Detailed Priority Systems on the Website – Page 17

Currently department detailed priority systems (which describe how a department orders the applicants it hires for TAships once they’re within one of the priority groups), have to be posted physically in the department. Posting this type of information physically is an artifact of a bygone time and we’re glad SFU Administration has agreed these should be on the online posting portion of the department’s website instead.

Increase the number of base units graduate students have priority for – Page 18

While most departments have made a 5 base unit appointment the standard TA appointment, the language actually only guarantees 4 base units for all qualified graduate students. This change was agreed earlier in the summer and reflects current practise.

Cut prep time in half for team teaching for sessionals – Page 19

Currently if sessionals team teach, they split the contact hours for the course but both get the 1.25 contact hours for preparation time. This is fair because team teaching requires additional preparation and time spent coordinating between the team teachers. Cutting the preparation time saves the University money and represents a pay cut for members currently team teaching.

Modify the Sessional Priority language – renaming it “seniority” – Page 20 – 22

The current language contains a right called “priority” for sessional instructors which effectively does nothing as the right exists only “in the opinion of the department.” The package renames this right “seniority” without changing the content of the right. The “seniority” that SFU has proposed only applies if two applicants are considered, in the opinion of the department, to have equal ability and qualifications – something that is highly unlikely. This right contains nothing of substance and is merely words on the page which in no way replace what was lost when right of first refusal was removed by SFU.

Remove right of first refusal – Page 21

The only right of return that sessional instructors currently have is the right of first refusal. SFU’s package completely removes right of first refusal. This means all current sessional instructors will lose their right of first refusal without any replacement.

Allow a reserve of 50% of sessional appointments for graduate students and others page 22

SFU’s package means that half of sessional appointments could be reserved for the department to hire graduate students, but the department is under no obligation to do so. Instead, this provision is merely meant to help further erode the meagre right of “seniority” discussed above. Graduate students & postdocs who get appointments do not accrue any of the very limited “seniority” described above.

Ladder to nowhere – Page 22

Update: Sept 21, 2015: clarified that TSSU’s current position is a ladder to an equivalent lecturer position, not necessarily a continuing one.
The package describes a ladder from sessional instructor positions to an offer of an opportunity to become a limited term Lecturer. So if a sessional has taught for 5 years at a full-time professor teaching load, then they must be offered the chance to apply for another job with no rights of return (a limited term lecturer). They will still have to compete for this job, hence the opportunity, so really this amounts to a provision to email sessionals with a job posting. TSSU wants to build a ladder for long term sessional instructors, but SFU’s ladder is a ladder to nowhere. It only affords sessional instructors an opportunity to apply to an even more precarious situation as limited term Lecturers, instead of actually protecting them by promoting them to a lecturer position. TSSU’s current position does not specify the type of lecturer position, only that it be equivalent to the sessional instructor position.

Limit the application of the TM Language – Page 23

The Tutor/Marker language is unique in the Collective Agreement as it provides more money as class size increases. SFU’s package would limit the application of this language by making it only apply where a course is distance and online only. This would mean even the smallest hybrid component added to what is currently a distance education course would convert the TM appointment to a TA appointment, which is paid by contact hour. This tiny addition would allow the Centre for Online and Distance Education to cut TM pay substantially and increase class sizes without compensating our members.

Change the time of office hours – Page 23

SFU’s package changes the time that TM’s must hold one of their office hours from “week day” to “work day.” This means that TMs can be forced to hold office hours on the weekend, since there is no definition of work day.

Removal of appointment priority for current TMs – Page 24

The TM language includes priority for graduate students who have TMed over graduate students who have not TMed previously. We haven’t heard of any problems with this language, but TSSU had also proposed to remove it as part of the merger between TM and TA language.

Add duration and special qualifications to postings – Page 24

Two additions suggested by TSSU have been added to the necessary information on posting. The rest of TSSU’s posting proposal, including a common posting date for TA/TM appointments was rejected by SFU Admin without explanation.

Require Health and Safety Training that doesn’t meet the legal requirement – Page 25

SFU has not been training our members on health and safety hazards. The regulations from WorkSafe BC state that new workers must be trained to the hazards they may be exposed to, whereas SFU’s package says the hazards they are likely to be exposed to. Likely to means SFU gets to do a probability calculation and not train to a hazard if, for example, there’s less than a 50% chance of exposure. This proposal puts our Collective Agreement below the law.

ELC / ITP Concessions

Lengthen the time before a temporary positions gets considered for conversion to continuing – Page 26

In the current Collective Agreement (CA), if a temporary ELC /ITP instructor is appointed for more than 2 consecutive terms the employer must consider whether they need to make a new continuing position. Unlike continuing instructors, temporary instructors receive no health or dental benefits, so the conversion is extremely important to instructors. The employer has proposed that instructor positions not be reviewed for conversion to continuing unless they work more than 40 consecutive weeks, effectively having to work all 8 of 8 ELC terms per year. Since many current continuing instructors are laid off for one or two semesters a year, this means no temporary instructor will ever meet this 40 consecutive week threshold. This creates a trap that temporary instructors will never be able to get out of. This concession means that, as continuing employees retire and leave over time, the entire program will eventually be converted to temporary instructors. This would turn the ELC/ITP program into a program being 100% run by contingent labour. The TSSU believes this concession outlines the long term goal of the ELC/ITP administration, which would like to see their program run entirely by sessional-type instructors with minimal rights and greatly reduced pay and benefits.

Increase the length of the standard work year – Page 26

The length of the standard work year defines the threshold required for ELC/ITP members to receive health, dental and many other benefits. The current threshold is 42 weeks worked per year, the employer has proposed that this be increased to 48 weeks worked per year. Since the program runs on 6 8 week terms, this means members would have to work all year in order to ensure they received benefits and would be unable to take a real vacation, besides the couple of days off between terms. This change is a concession that will remove benefits and sick leave from many instructors.

Increase the length of the standard work week to 47 hours / week – Page 26

Currently, full time work in the ELC/ITP program is 15 contact hours, which corresponds to the SFU standard 35 total hours of work per week. Above 17 contact hours worked, corresponding to a regular 40 hour work week, overtime rates apply. The employer has proposed that the threshold for overtime pay start at 21 contact hours, which corresponds to 49 hours of work per week. This concession means that ELC/ITP members would be below the minimum standards of the employment standards act, which states overtime starts at 40 hours worked per week.

Kick instructors off the layoff list as soon as possible. – Page 27

Enrolment in the ELC/ITP program fluctuates so many instructors find themselves laid off frequently. Currently employees stay on the laid off list for 2 years and are able to maintain their seniority date while on the laid off list. The employer has proposed to kick the instructor off the laid off as soon as they are turn down for any reason. This concession allows the employer to eliminate many senior members from the program by offering them a position that is simply unreasonable. For example, they could call the employee up in the evening and offer them work for 8 am the next morning. If the employee said no, they would lose their seniority and essentially be “fired” from the position they had held for, in some cases, decades. This is an enormous concession that essentially gives the employer free reign to get rid of any employees they choose.

Reduction of ELC /ITP rights to bargain – Page 27

Currently up to 4 ELC/ITP members are permitted to get paid time to be part of TSSU’s bargaining committee. This paid time ensures that ELC/ITP members do not lose out on seniority or other benefits while helping to negotiate a new collective agreement. Currently the language also specifies that the union be credited with twice the cost of the paid time for bargaining and be debited for the paid time off. This extra credit helps ensure the TSSU has the resources to cover the costs of ELC/ITP members attending bargaining outside of their normal work hours. The employer has proposed that the number of ELC/ITP employees be limited to 2, instead of 4, and that TSSU pay half the cost of the substitute plus half the cost the bargaining team member pay. The employer has proposed we go from a case of the employer crediting the union at the cost of the bargaining time, to a situation where the TSSU has to pay the department at the cost of bargaining time. This concession increases costs on the union -while reducing the ability of ELC/ITP members to participate in bargaining. Given the employer’s past bargaining, this concession could result in additional costs to TSSU in excess of a hundred thousand dollars for a bargaining round of the length of the 2010-2012 bargaining round.

Make TSSU pay for ELC/ITP members at bargaining – Page 27

The current language credits TSSU at twice the rate of the salary cost for the ELC/ITP members who bargain. This extra credit, if SFU actually agreed to pay it out, would help cover the cost of these member’s attendance at contract committee meetings beyond bargaining sessions. SFU’s package changes a credit to TSSU to a charge to TSSU of half the cost of ELC/ITP salary maintenance plus half the cost of the substitute. This flips the current situation on its head and would result in large bills for TSSU in future bargaining. This cut would be a monetary cost to TSSU of at least $15,000 per bargaining round.

Increase the amount of time for the annual step increase – Page 28

In the last round of bargaining, TSSU and the employer agreed to equalize the time between step increases on the salary grid for ELC and ITP at 36 weeks. This means that as long as employee works 6.5 / 8 terms in ELC, they would receive step increase. It’s important this value is less than a full work year because many instructors are laid off for a term or two each year as enrolment fluctuates. The employer wants to increase the time to get a step increase to 40 weeks. This is a monetary concession that means some employees will lose out on their salary increases.

Cut sick leave by at least 40% – Page 28

Since the first collective agreement, employees in the ELC/ITP program have received 60 total hours of sick time per year, prorated for part-time workers, which can be take either as full days or in hourly chunks, whichever results in more sick time for the employee. The employer has proposed this be reduced to 36 hours per year for full time employees. This reduction comes in concert with a recent increase in the daily contact hours to a maximum of 6 per day. This concession means the previous sick leave, which is described as 12 full days of sick time, would in fact only be worth 6 full days for a cut of 50%. Whichever formula you choose, the reduction in sick time is enormous and a significant concession.

Remove personal leave – Page 29

Since the ELC/ITP schedule prevents instructors from taking real vacations, many instead choose to take an unpaid personal leave for part of a semester in order to take a vacation with their family. A typical scenario would see an instructor taking half or quarter of a term off every couple of years in order to take a vacation. The employer has proposed that instructors only be able to take unpaid personal leaves in increments of a whole term, so an instructor would have to go 8 weeks without pay just to take a two week vacation. An instructor who takes a whole term off would also not meet the current minimum threshold of 42 weeks worked per year in order to qualify for benefits. This concession would make it financially impossible for instructors to take the time off necessary for a reasonable quality of life.

Payment of wages – Page 29

SFU’s package does not meet the level of the law in several ways. First the law requires employees are informed of and given a way to print an electronic wage statement, their package guarantees neither. Second, the package puts the onus on the employee to provide paperwork, while removing the requirement of SFU to provide the paperwork and assistance on completing it. Third it gives SFU some significant wiggle room, which is not part of the law, when they miss paying you on time. Finally the package also carefully neglects to include that TSSU members will be paid on the salaried pay schedule. This indicates a future plan by Human Resources to attempt to convert TSSU members to hourly employees, despite 50 years of history as salaried employees. This payment of wages provision doesn’t meet the law and gives Human Resources a way to further hurt our members in the future via conversion to the hourly payroll schedule.

Childcare Bursary – Page 30-33

This part of the package is TSSU’s most recent counter-proposal on the Childcare Bursary. This would fix the problem of members being constantly denied funding by SFU by having TSSU take over a limited portion of the administration of the fund. Taking over administration is something we have resisted for a decade, since TSSU does not have the staff or resources to administer such a fund. The package would have Financial Aid do the receiving and data entry for the Childcare Bursary, TSSU would then get to decide the amount to be disbursed to each applicant, with cheques being sent out by SFU afterwards. This fix to the childcare is positive, but it is only available if we accept the entirety of the rest of the package.

Union facilities letter – Page 34

This letter outlines that SFU would consider looking into finding more space for TSSU, but does not promise any space.

Payment of wages letter – Page 35

This letter outlines that the huge benefit email you get at the start of the semester from Human Resources will now be re-titled and also include information about payment of wages. Adding more content to a 6 page email is not a solution to the legal requirement to tell employees how to access their wage statement.

SFU Admin chooses ultimatum over negotiation

You can find a complete copy of the Employer’s Final Package here.

TSSU’s Contract Committee spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at mediation, working to find a path to a settlement with SFU Administration. Throughout the weekend, your Contract Committee was hopeful of reaching a deal, since SFU Administration’s spokesperson expressed interest in TSSU’s positions and distanced himself from SFU’s proposed concessions and cuts. However, the language of SFU Administration’s proposals did not deliver on this hope. Rather than following TSSU’s lead by moving toward a settlement on each issue, SFU Administration proposed an all-or-nothing Final Package with numerous poison-pill proposals.

Members who are interested in organizing to get a fair deal should attend the next Greater Committee Meeting:
Monday September 14 on Burnaby Campus 5:30-6:45pm – meet at AQ 5129 (TSSU office).

To discuss this offer, we have called a Special General Membership Meeting for:
Wednesday September 16 on Burnaby Campus from 11:30am-1:30pm in MBC 2290.

At this meeting, the Contract Committee will propose the membership hold a vote on SFU Administration’s Final Offer. SFU Administration’s Final Package will be available in full to members at this week’s Special General Membership Meeting.

SFU Administration’s Final Package includes a fix to the Childcare Fund, they are only offering this fix if TSSU accepts extensive takeaways.

SFU Administration’s Final Package cuts pay for the following members:

  • For Sessional Instructors who team-teach, their preparation pay will be cut 50%,
  • For ELC/ITP members, their work week will increase from the legal standard of 40 hours per week before overtime to 47 hours,
  • For TMs, SFU Administration did not clearly propose a wage cut, but their language on the mixed-delivery classroom opens a potential loophole for a cut to current distance education Tutor Markers.

SFU Administration’s Final Package removes existing rights:

  • strips all rights of return (including ROFR) from Sessional Instructors; while their proposal claims to offer seniority, it delivers less right of returns than our current Collective Agreement,
  • removes the right of members to receive a physical copy of the Collective Agreement.

Particularly, SFU Administration singles out our language instructors from ELC/ITP for numerous cuts. Their Final Package:

  • delays the review of ELC/ITP instructors for consideration from continuing status,
  • demands more weeks of work from ELC/ITP Instructors,
  • makes it easier to remove ELC/ITP Instructors from the laid-off list,
  • allows the department to convert continuing ELC/ITP Instructors to temporary instructors via layoff,
  • cuts ELC/ITP sick time from 72 contact hours (12 days) to 36 contact hours (6 days)

Additionally, SFU Administration’s Final Package fails to address TSSU’s core issues as defined by our members:

  • does not address TA priority or access to work for graduate students,
  • undercuts the law on the Health and Safety training required by Worksafe BC,
  • undercuts the law on the Employment Standards Act for payment of wages,
  • claims to address the increased workload of in-person/online classes without guaranteeing additional compensation for increased work,

In addition, SFU Administration’s Final Package requires TSSU to report to Human Resources any time we meet with a Department Chair to discuss a problem. This step would erode current rights of Department Chairs to decide when to involve HR in disputes, and would bring the same bargainer who has stalled our Contract Negotiations for 16 months into every step of the informal problem-solving process.

SFU Administration’s Final Package includes the following general Monetary & Benefits provisions:

  • 5 year agreement with a term from May 1, 2014 – April 30, 2019
  • the standard public sector wage increase of 0% for May 1 2014, 1% for May 1 2015, 0.5% for May 1 2016, 1% March 1 2017, 0.5 May 1 2017, 1% March 1, 2018, 0.5% May 1 2018, 1% March 1 2019.
  • offers an option to delay the above wage increases slightly to create a professional development fund for ELC/ITP instructors
  • proposes an “economic stability payment” which, in the opinion of your Contract Committee, will deliver nothing to members
  • increases the portion of salary maintenance that TSSU has to pay for ELC/ITP instructors who are on the Contract Committee (estimated cost to TSSU of $10,000 per bargaining round)

If you want to take part in this discussion of our next contract, covering a five year period, come to the meeting!

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.

TSSU Pickets on First Day of Classes; Celebration of Solidarity Tomorrow

This morning, TSSU members welcomed students to the first day of classes and marked the beginning of SFU’s 50th year with picket lines around the Applied Sciences Building.

We saw great solidarity from members who stood on the line, from CUPE staff who stood shoulder to shoulder with us, from students who refused to enter the ASB, and from Faculty Members who cancelled classes.

The picket and our other planned actions for this week compelled the Employer to come back to the table. Your previous commitment to grade withholding and solidarity throughout the strike also resulted in a change to the SFU Administration contract negotiators. Today was the first day that VP Academic Jon Driver met with TSSU, bringing not only actual decision making power, but also a change in tone. Under this new leadership, SFU Administration finally offered a substantive response to several of our core issues, and we received verbal support for our fix to the childcare fund, which aims to get money into the hands of parents.

Both sides agreed to spend Wednesday caucusing and exchanging proposals via email, with face to face discussions recommencing at 9:00 am on Thursday. We need to continue showing strong solidarity so SFU Administration follows up Tuesday’s talk with concrete proposals on Thursday. All available members are asked to meet tomorrow, Wednesday September 9, for a Celebration of Solidarity at the following times and places:

  • Celebration Kickoff: Please meet us in the TSSU office (AQ 5129) by 11am and wear your red shirt (we’ll have some on hand if you don’t have one yet).
  • Materials and Prep: Stop by the office between 12:30 and 4:00 pm to help us prepare materials and signage.
  • Red Shirt Solidarity: Meet us in front of Strand Hall at 4:30 pm for a group activity to show solidarity – red shirts will be provided!
  • Strand Hall: Meet us in front of Strand Hall at 5:30pm for the rest of the evening’s activities. If you can, bring bike lights, head lamps, or any fun light-up materials you might have for when it gets dark.

Sept 8 ASB

Prospect of Picket Lines Brings VP Academic to the table

The prospect of pickets during SFU’s 50th anniversary celebration and your solidarity in “marking for education, not administration” has caused significant movement. The VP Academic, Jon Driver, has agreed to takeover as Chief Spokesperson for SFU Administration. We will enter into continuous bargaining starting at noon on Tuesday September 8th. Mediator Vince Ready will join the process on Friday Sept 11 and is available throughout the weekend as well.

As a result of negotiations throughout today, we have agreed to change our picketing plans, and will no longer be picketing on Wednesday Sept 9. Here’s an outline of next week’s job action:

“Marking for Education” continues, for those who did not teach in the summer, you can find the instructions here: http://strike.tssu.ca/marking-for-education/ and more stickers are available in the office.

  • Tuesday Sept 8 Morning: Pickets will commence as scheduled at 7:30am around the Applied Sciences Building and continue until noon. Please see below for clarifications about this picket.
  • Tuesday Sept 8 Afternoon: Your contract committee will commence bargaining with VP Academic Jon Driver as SFU Administration’s spokesperson and bargaining will continue through the weekend.
  • Tuesday Sept 8 5:00pm: join the Greater Committee meeting at 5:00pm in AQ 5049 to help plan the next stages of job action.
  • Wednesday Sept 9 Evening: There will no longer be picket lines, instead join us outside Strand Hall from 5:30 pm-9:00 pm for the TSSU Celebration of Solidarity.
  • Thursday Sept 10: Join TSSU at the Week of Welcome to try your hand at sessional snakes and ladders, pin the collective agreement on Starfleet Captain A. Petter, and more.
  • Friday Sept 11: All members are welcome to join TA/TM day at Halpern Centre and the social afterwards starting at 4:30pm in the Highland Pub. Mediator Vince Ready will join the bargaining process at 9:00am
  • Saturday Sept 12 & Sunday Sept 13: Your contract committee is available for continued mediation throughout the weekend.

Mediation adjourned by Labour Relations Board – Strike Action Continues

Two of three possible days in mediation at the Labour Relations Board have resulted in no progress at the bargaining table. Your Contract Committee is disappointed that our willingness to move toward settlement was not acknowledged or reciprocated by SFU Administration.

Despite the overwhelming solidarity shown by TSSU members during the ongoing grade withholding, SFU Administration has still not addressed TSSU’s core issues at the table. Your Contract Committee believes that a public show of collective power is urgently needed at this stage of bargaining.

Your Contract Committee will be dedicating the next week to mobilizing members and supporters in preparation for picket lines at the Applied Sciences Building on the morning of Tuesday, September 8th, and the Academic Quadrangle on the evening of Wednesday, September 9th. We will see you on the picket line.