SFU Admininistration Appropriates Childcare Bursary

Note: the positions described below are TSSU’s opening positions in bargaining from June 2014. We did not have a substantive response on these positions until Jon Driver joined the bargaining process in September 2015. Since that time, these positions have been adjusted as part of the normal bargaining process of moving towards settlement. Due to the fluid nature of bargaining not all of these moves may be reflected below. For the most up to date information email tssu@tssu.ca.

SFU Administration has decided to drain the TSSU Member Childcare Bursary to fill the holes in its own underfunded bursary system. SFU Administration now excludes members who receive this Childcare funding from receiving general bursaries. Without informing or consulting the TSSU, SFU has altered the disbursement process of this $50,000 per year fund. Not only does this deny TSSU members access to the funding they need, it does so by appropriating a Bursary which is partially funded by TSSU members’ foregone wages. This is in direct violation of the Collective Agreement between SFU and the TSSU.

The TSSU Member Childcare Bursary was designed to bridge the gap in SFU’s bursary system by guaranteeing that the children of our members have their basic care needs met. In the years since, however, SFU Administration has built bureaucratic barriers around this bursary, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars left unused in the fund while the needs of our members go unmet. To make it worse, the TSSU has now learned that when a person satisfies the requirements of the Childcare Bursary, SFU Administration revokes their general bursary award, taking the total amount disbursed from the Childcare Bursary.

SFU Administration has manipulated the bursary process to achieve this. When a student applies for a bursary, Financial Aid and Awards determines the student’s financial need based on their expenses and available funds. SFU does not fund its bursaries with enough money to meet the needs of every student at SFU. Each semester, Financial Aid and Awards advises recipients that they will provide a percentage of assessed need to each student, based on the amount available for disbursement and the determined need of the student population. The TSSU bargained language in 2006 (page 86 of the 2010-2014 Collective Agreement) which states:

  • …the parties agree that unlike other University bursaries, which are limited to a percentage of assessed financial need, TSSU members with childcare expenses will be eligible for additional funding from the TSSU Member Childcare Bursary bringing their total disbursement to 100% of assessed need.

This language makes it clear that our members did not vote to give up their wage increase to prop up SFU’s underfunded bursary system. SFU Administration has refused the TSSU’s efforts to come to a settlement, so the TSSU filed for third-party arbitration in April 2015.

The TSSU has tabled proposals to solve this issue in three consecutive rounds of bargaining. The TSSU is calling on SFU Administration to support TSSU members with children. We provide 50% of the teaching time at this University. At no additional cost, SFU can turn the bursary into a fund, separate it from bursary requirements, and simplify the application process. Taking these steps will go a long way to delivering needed money to the children of our members.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *