Strike FAQ

At a general membership meeting in February 2015, our membership decided to hold a strike vote. In the largest turnout in TSSU history, members voted 92.2% YES to authorize strike action. On March 27th, a special general membership meeting was held and a strike committee formed. On April 16th, TSSU delivered 72-hour strike notice to SFU. On June 30th, SFU Administration alleged that the 72-hour strike notice should have been delivered a second time. As a consequence, TSSU conducted a 2nd strike vote on July 15 and 16, and members voted 86% YES to job action and they authorized the use of picket lines. For more details see the FAQ below.

If you have any questions please contact tssu@tssu.ca

Marking for Education not Administration

Job Action Questions

July 15 Strike Vote Questions

General Questions

Bargaining Progress Questions

Pre Strike Vote questions

Marking for Education not Administration

Why do we need to increase the pressure now?

TSSU has been without a collective agreement for over 15 months. SFU Administration has shown no willingness to negotiate on our core issues, despite our previous job action. We know from bargaining the 2010-2014 collective agreement that SFU Administration is very unlikely to bargain with us in a serious way and address our core issues until they feel significant pressure from the TSSU membership and the campus community as a whole. Following our job action in November 2012, a member of SFU’s Senior Administration with the authority to make changes to the collective agreement attended bargaining for the first time that round. We negotiated the majority of our agreement in the subsequent 48 hours. Similarly, while performing job action earlier in this round of bargaining, we likewise began to see minor but positive changes in bargaining.

Recently, UBC Administration negotiated a deal with their TAs in a span of only 3 months, from beginning to end. At the onset of this round of bargaining our committee was optimistic that, unlike recent bargaining between TSSU and Administration, negotiations would proceed in an expeditious manner, similar to that of UBC. This has obviously not been the case, and it is clear that once again we need to take collective action to bargain a collective agreement that improves our working conditions sooner rather than later.

The TSSU is fighting for:

  • Seniority for experienced Sessional Instructors
  • Access to SFU’s standard benefit package for Continuing Language Instructors in the ELC/ITP program
  • Protection from overwork/underpay for TA/TMs and improved access to TA/TM work for grad students
  • A fix to the childcare bursary to get money into the hands of parents
  • Compliance with BC law, on issues such as Health and Safety and payment of wages

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Why is withholding the marks from Administration a good option?

Our greatest strength as workers is that our labour is essential to the operation of the University, and we have complete control of withdrawing that labour. Withholding marks generates pressure on the administration, but has a lower impact on students than the cancellation of classes that would result from a picket line. This job action also ensures that members continue to be paid while putting significant pressure on the Administration.
While withholding marks, teaching work will continue, students will learn, feedback will be provided, and the student-teacher relationship can actually be strengthened due to increased interaction. We recognize that this may cause more work for our members, but this extra work results in no lost wages unlike a picket line.
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Can I be fired for withholding grades as part of a strike?

No. Under the BC Labour Code, TSSU members cannot suffer retribution, intimidation or any discipline for participating in an official job action. The Strike Committee has declared that all members must withhold grades, so all members are now protected by the law. In the past, a limited number of TSSU members experienced intimidation and coercion from bosses and managers. Please immediately report any such behaviour to TSSU so we can put a stop to it.
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Will I still be paid if we’re withholding grades?

Since you are still completing your work, you must continue to be paid. In the event TSSU members choose to withdraw services (e.g. set up a picket line) then SFU Administration is allowed to deduct money from your pay.
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Why are we doing this during the summer semester?

Unlike most universities, SFU has about 60% of a fall/spring course load running in the summer. TSSU members teach a larger percentage of the courses in the summer and so we still have substantial effect by refusing to enter grades. We have been without an agreement for over a year and TSSU’s Strike Committee feels that pressure is necessary now to finally come to an agreement.
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Why don’t we just ask the Administration to be more reasonable?

The Contract and Strike Committees have made multiple requests for the SFU Administration to come to the table to address our core issues and bargain a Collective Agreement. In response, SFU Administration has repeated that they will not address any of these issues in this round of bargaining, despite their repeated requests for a deal that takes us to 2019. It is clear from the behaviour of SFU Administration and our experience in 2012 that significant pressure is required to get them to bargain on our core issues. In 2012, it took several picket lines and over a month of Marking for Education not Administration to get a senior VP to attend bargaining. An agreement was then reached within 48 hours.
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What about marking that is supposed to be done online?

You must not enter grades into any electronic system that is available for access by employees of SFU who are not TSSU members. You may enter feedback (e.g. comments, hints, alternative ways to approach the problem, etc) onto an electronic system, but numeric and letter grades must not be entered. For unusual circumstances, please contact TSSU via the means listed above.
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What about a set of assignments I received and commenced marking before July 22nd?

If you received assignments before the start of grade withholding and commenced marking then you should continue to mark all of them as normal.
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What if a student handed in a late assignment after July 21nd but I’ve marked all of the other assignments?

Any assignments due before 11:59pm, July 21st, should be marked. This includes late assignments and extensions. Any exams which are to be group marked after July 21st are subject to this job action.
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What if a student handed in an early assignment before July 22nd but the assignment was due later after July 21st and I wasn’t specifically instructed to mark the assignments before they were due?

This means you were scheduled to mark the assignments after withholding of grades started. You must withhold grades.
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What if the midterm or assignment was completed previously but we’re scheduled to group mark after July 21st

Since your marking was scheduled to begin after the start of withholding grades, you must withhold grades.
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What if we’re halfway through group-marking a midterm when grade withholding starts on July 22?

Any marks recorded on the page can remain. The remainder of the exam questions to be marked will be withheld. As a result the exam grade will also be withheld. See the “group marking” instructions for further information.
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What if my class involves participation marks or “i-clickers” and I have concerns about withholding grades under those conditions?

Please contact tssu@tssu.ca for specific assistance with these problems or call 778-782-4735 or 604-652-6202.
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What if my class involves participation marks or “i-clickers” and I have concerns about withholding grades under those conditions?

Please contact tssu@tssu.ca for specific assistance with these problems or call 778-782-4735 or 604-652-6202.
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I’m a student and I don’t have a TSSU member (TA/TM/Sessional) teaching or marking my class, will my grades still be withheld?

The only grades being withheld are those being marked by a TSSU member, which includes TAs, TMs, ELC/ITP Instructors and Sessional Instructors. If you don’t have a TA/TM, there’s still about a 1 in 4 chance (a little higher in the summer) that your instructor is a Union member. If you’re not sure, you can simply politely ask your instructor. If you find out your instructor is a TSSU member, we strongly encourage you to support them by telling them you understand why they have to withhold your grades. That alone takes a huge amount of stress off our members’ minds. If you’re interested, you can also write letters of support for the TSSU to President Petter (sfu_pres@sfu.ca) and the VP Academic, Jon Driver (driver@sfu.ca) that tells them that they should direct their negotiators to sincerely bargain with us instead of stalling.
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July Strike Vote FAQ

Why did we cease job action?

On June 30th, SFU Administration threatened to tie us up in months of litigation over the requirement to serve strike notice twice under Essential Services law. Because our goal is a Collective Agreement, the Strike Committee decided the best course of action was to side-step that litigation by ending job action until we can hold a second strike vote. Continuing our strike action could have lead to an increasing legal liability and not a Collective Agreement, which is always our goal. As well, a second vote was already in our plans.

Should I still be withholding grades?

No, all current strike action has ceased. You should release your grades to your students and Course Supervisor as per the normal procedure for your course. Please continue to watch your email to be informed of any strike action that the Strike Committee decides after the upcoming strike vote on July 15 and 16.

Why are we taking a 2nd strike vote?

It is clear SFU’s Administration will not bargain a Collective Agreement that addresses our core issues without strike action by TSSU. In order to commence strike action, a union must have held a strike vote within 3 months. Just after our vote expired, SFU Administration alleged that TSSU’s initial strike notice wasn’t served correctly under Essential Services legislation. Because of that, we must legally take a second vote. TSSU traditionally holds a second vote to authorize the use of picket lines, so this vote will both authorize picket lines and ensure our members are legally protected.

What does Essential Services mean?

Essential Services is a system intended to protect against risk of things such as injury to humans or animals arising from lockouts or strikes. Any work designated as Essential under this legislation cannot be impeded by a strike or lockout. At SFU, only a few workers are covered under this legislation, such as those monitoring boilers, and the animal care facility. The work performed by TSSU, like the faculty, is not deemed Essential by SFU’s Administration. Despite this, the Essential Services legislation still applies to TSSU’s strike action.

What is the difference between this vote and the March vote?

Both votes will be conducted the same way: on paper ballots and in person, as required by BC Labour Law. The key difference is that the second vote will authorize all strike action, up to and including picket lines. All members who have held a TSSU appointment since September 2014 and all ELC/ITP employees who are on the seniority list are eligible to vote.

Why not just go back to the table with no strike mandate?

Before job action, we had reached no agreements with SFU Administration. After our previous strike vote and Administrative job action, we signed 8 small changes to the Collective Agreement. Similarly, grade withholding produced a commitment from SFU Administration for more and longer bargaining dates, a guarantee of an academic on SFU Administration’s bargaining team, and a review of TSSU proposals by VP Academic Jon Driver. Without a strike mandate and pressure from our members, SFU Administration has no incentive to negotiate an equitable Collective Agreement.

Why didn’t we fight it out in court?

Continuing our strike action could have lead to an increasing legal liability both to the Union as a whole and to individual members complying with the strike action. Our goal is a fair contract, so the Strike Committee felt it was strategically best to cease all strike action and hold a strike vote to ensure solid legal footing. This both protects our members and is the most direct route to reaching a Collective Agreement.

How did we miss this?

The requirements around essential services are actually separated into two different sections of the Labour Code. Under the essential services section, everything we did was in order. However, there is an additional requirement in the strike notice section of the labour code that was initially missed both by TSSU and SFU’s Administration.

Can you explain the whole timeline around the essential services order?

  • At the end of February, 2015, we informed the SFU community of our strike vote. Normally, an employer would seek an Essential Services order at this time, as the code provides very strict timelines for this process.
  • After our strike vote on March 27th, we wrote SFU’s VP Finance & Administration requesting SFU Administration complete the necessary paperwork for the Essential Services order.
  • Three weeks later, on April 16th, TSSU served strike notice to SFU. When SFU’s Administration received our strike notice, they informed us that we needed to delay our strike action until after the Essential Services order was received.
  • On April 17th and 18th, TSSU worked to accelerate the process.
  • On April 22nd, the Essential Services order was received and TSSU then commenced strike action with an overtime ban.
  • On June 30th, SFU brought forward a new allegation that we should have served them with a second notice after the essential services order was received.
  • On July 2nd, TSSU and SFU’s Administration agreed that SFU would not pursue any legal action against TSSU or its members if job action ceased.
  • We agreed to disagree on the legal status of the initial strike action.
  • On the afternoon of July 2nd, TSSU sent an email to members informing them to cease all job action. Because more than 3 months had passed since the initial strike vote, TSSU must take a new strike vote in order to recommence any job or strike action.

Do we need legal permission to picket?

Under the law, a single strike vote authorizes all strike action, including picket lines. TSSU holds a second vote before commencing picket lines, as we did in October 2012.

Will I lose pay if there is a strike?

Short of picket lines, with strike action such as grade withholding, you should not lose any pay. This is because you are still performing your work. If we go to picket lines, pay is only impacted if you have a class on the particular day of the picket, for the first five instructional days missed. The Collective Agreement sets out how pay is impacted in Article VIII. For TA/TMs, the scholarship portion of your pay is not affected. On the first five days of picket lines, your biweekly pay can be decreased by 10% for each instructional day you miss. If the pickets last longer than five days, your pay can be deducted by 10% per day. No one wants a pay cut, so picket action will only be called for if it is absolutely necessary to achieve an agreement.

What’s the plan moving forward?

On July 15th and 16th, we will take another strike vote. After that vote, the Greater Committee and Strike Committee will continue to meet weekly to determine our evolving strike strategy every Monday from 5-7pm in AQ 5118. All members are welcome, and food is provided.

How long will it take?

We maintain our belief that an agreement is possible before SFU’s 50th anniversary celebration on September 9th. The higher our strike vote and the more solidarity we see from the SFU community, the faster we will get to a Collective Agreement.

What about mediation?

When bargaining is not effective, mediation is often employed. Either party involved in the “dispute” can apply to the Labour Relations Board for a mediator. The mediator’s role is to be a neutral third party that meets independently with both sides and acts as a go between to help them come to an agreement. A seasoned mediator will be able to recognize when both parties are interested in reaching an agreement, and SFU Administration has refused to bargain on most of our core issues, so there is no reason to expect that they would respond favourably to mediation.

When are we going to picket?

We are asking for authorization to hold picket lines so we have the strategic ability to do so when it will produce the most pressure on the SFU Administration. The specific decision to go, or not go, to picket lines will be debated and discussed at the weekly Greater Committee meetings, Mondays on SFU Burnaby campus in AQ 5118 from 5-7pm. All members are encouraged to attend, food is available.

What happens if we vote no?

If the TSSU gets a negative strike vote then the contract committee would be forced to accept the concessions that the employer is asking for and our collective agreement would be effectively gutted. A “no” vote to a strike vote after almost a year of bargaining is effectively a “yes” vote on the employer’s current offer. For more details on the employer’s concessions see Employer Concessions.
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What happens if we vote Yes?

If the TSSU gets a positive strike vote then the Strike Committee will be empowered to choose to commence job action once again. A special general meeting does not need to be held, as the Strike Committee has already been constituted, as per the Strike Policy. With input from the membership and in consultation with the Contract Committee and Membership Mobilization Committee, the Strike Committee could then choose to engage the strike vote to commence job action, or choose to wait.
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Job Action FAQ

What is an overtime ban?

An overtime ban means that any workers who have overtime defined in the Collective Agreement will no longer perform that overtime. Employers often use overtime to force current workers to work long hours rather than hiring more workers. The ban is meant to cause administrative problems for the employer while demonstrating the importance of replacing continuing workers when they retire or leave their jobs.
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I’m a TA, TM or Sessional Instructor and work long hours, does an overtime ban apply to me?

The current overtime ban applies only to members in the ELC/ITP program. If the overtime ban is extended to include TAs, TMs and/or Sessional Instructors, the instructions will be sent directly to your work email via TSSU’s membership email list. If you are not receiving these emails and have recently worked or are currently in a TSSU position, please email tssu@tssu.ca to be added to the list.
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The Background: Why do we need to increase the pressure now?

TSSU has been without a collective agreement for over 15 months. SFU Administration has shown no willingness to negotiate on our core issues, despite our previous job action. We know from bargaining the 2010-2014 collective agreement that SFU Administration is very unlikely to bargain with us in a serious way and address our core issues until they feel significant pressure from the TSSU membership and the campus community as a whole. Following our job action in November 2012, a member of SFU’s Senior Administration with the authority to make changes to the collective agreement attended bargaining for the first time that round. We negotiated the majority of our agreement in the subsequent 48 hours. Similarly, while performing job action earlier in this round of bargaining, we likewise began to see minor but positive changes in bargaining.

Recently, UBC Administration negotiated a deal with their TAs in a span of only 3 months, from beginning to end. At the onset of this round of bargaining our committee was optimistic that, unlike recent bargaining between TSSU and Administration, negotiations would proceed in an expeditious manner, similar to that of UBC. This has obviously not been the case, and it is clear that once again we need to take collective action to bargain a collective agreement that improves our working conditions sooner rather than later.

The TSSU is fighting for:

  • seniority for experienced Sessional Instructors
  • access to SFU’s standard benefit package for Continuing Language Instructors in the ELC/ITP program
  • protection from overwork/underpay for TA/TMs and improved access to TA/TM work for grad students
  • a fix to the childcare bursary to get money into the hands of parents
  • compliance with BC law, on issues such as Health and Safety and payment of wages

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Why is withholding the marks from Administration a good option?

Our greatest strength as workers is that our labour is essential to the operation of the University, and we have complete control of withdrawing that labour. Withholding marks generates pressure on the administration, but has a lower impact on students than the cancellation of classes that would result from a picket line. This job action also ensures that members continue to be paid while putting significant pressure on the Administration.

While withholding marks, teaching work will continue, students will learn, feedback will be provided, and the student-teacher relationship can actually be strengthened due to increased interaction. We recognize that this may cause more work for our members, but this extra work results in no lost wages unlike a picket line.
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Can I be fired for withholding grades as part of a strike?

No. Under the BC Labour Code, TSSU members cannot suffer retribution, intimidation or any discipline for participating in an official job action. The Strike Committee has declared that all members must withhold grades, so all members are now protected by the law. In the past, a limited number of TSSU members experienced intimidation and coercion from bosses and managers. Please immediately report any such behaviour to TSSU so we can put a stop to it.
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Will I still be paid if we’re withholding grades?

Since you are still completing your work, you must continue to be paid. In the event TSSU members choose to withdraw services (e.g. set up a picket line) then SFU Administration is allowed to deduct money from your pay.
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Why are we doing this during the summer semester?

Unlike most universities, SFU has about 60% of a fall/spring course load running in the summer. TSSU members teach a larger percentage of the courses in the summer and so we still have substantial effect by refusing to enter grades. We have been without an agreement for over a year and TSSU’s Strike Committee feels that pressure is necessary now to finally come to an agreement.
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Why don’t we just ask the Administration to be more reasonable?

The Contract and Strike Committees have made multiple requests for the SFU Administration to come to the table to address our core issues and bargain a Collective Agreement. In response, SFU Administration has repeated that they will not address any of these issues in this round of bargaining, despite their repeated requests for a deal that takes us to 2019. It is clear from the behaviour of SFU Administration and our experience in 2012 that significant pressure is required to get them to bargain on our core issues. In 2012, it took several picket lines and over a month of Marking for Education not Administration to get a senior VP to attend bargaining. An agreement was then reached within 48 hours.
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What about marking that is supposed to be done online?

You must not enter grades into any electronic system that is available for access by employees of SFU who are not TSSU members. You may enter feedback (e.g. comments, hints, alternative ways to approach the problem, etc) onto an electronic system, but numeric and letter grades must not be entered. For unusual circumstances, please contact TSSU via the means listed above.
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What if a student handed in an assignment after July 21st, but I’ve marked all of the other assignments?

All assignments due before 11:59, July 21st, should be marked. This includes late assignments and extensions.
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What if a student handed in an early assignment before July 22nd, but the assignment was due later, after July 21st, and I wasn’t specifically instructed to mark the assignments before they were due?

This means you were scheduled to mark the assignments after withholding of grades started. You must withhold grades.
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What if the midterm or assignment was completed previously but we’re scheduled to group mark after July 21st

Since your marking was scheduled to begin after the start of withholding grades, you must withhold grades.
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What if we’re halfway through group-marking a midterm when grade withholding starts on July 22?

Any marks recorded on the page can remain. The remainder of the exam questions to be marked will be withheld. As a result the exam grade will also be withheld. See the “group marking” instructions for further information.
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What if my class involves participation marks or “i-clickers” and I have concerns about withholding grades under those conditions?

Please contact tssu@tssu.ca for specific assistance with these problems or call 778-782-4735 or 604-652-6202.
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General Questions

What happens now that there’s a new YES vote?

The TSSU has reconstituted it Strike Committee and met twice since the YES vote. The Committee decided, first, to implement and overtime ban, and second, to start grade withholding as of July 21st at 11:59pm.
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I’m a member and I want to help, what can I do?

The key on the ground work of communicating with members and preparing the membership for job action is done by the Membership Mobilization Committee (MMC). If you’re interested in helping out you should look on our public calendar for the next meeting time or contact the MMC Commissioner (Phil Dhluy) at mmc_commissioner@tssu.ca. All TSSU meetings are open to all members.

If you’d like to attend a bargaining session, all members are able to attend as advisers to the committee, under the protocol agreement signed between TSSU and SFU’s Administration. If you want to see bargaining first hand, please email our Membership Representative, Karen Dean at kdean@tssu.ca
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Will a Yes Vote Mean a Picket Line?

Under TSSU’s practice, a positive strike vote authorizes all job action except for a picket line, also referred to as a full withdrawal of services. TSSU, in the last round of bargaining has committed to holding a second vote of the membership, before any escalation to picket lines. This second vote would be held electronically, as the BC Labour Code requirement for paper ballots only applies to the initial strike vote. So in short, a Yes vote must occur for a TSSU picket line to be legal, but a TSSU picket line cannot be enacted without a second vote open to all members. It is also important to reiterate that a picket line is always a last resort. The goal of job action is to reach a collective agreement by applying pressure on the University Administration without having to resort to using our ultimate power of withdrawing our labour completely.
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What’s the difference between job action and striking?

Under the British Columbia Labour Code, a job action (or strike action) refers to any collective action undertaken by union members in order to put pressure on an employer. However, in common speech, many people consider strike action to be the putting up of picket lines. When communicating, we thus make a distinction between job action and a complete work stoppage by calling the latter picketing, withdrawing services, or a work stoppage. The way TSSU refers to a job action is meant to encompass all of the many different and creative ways a union can put pressure on an employer, and typically refers to (almost) any change to our activity on the job that either makes our labour more visible (e.g., putting stickers on marked assignments informing students that their work was marked by a TSSU member), or denies the employer access to our labour (e.g., refusing to work overtime hours). While picketing typically results in a loss of pay, many other job actions can be designed such that union members do not lose pay.

If job action is necessary, the TSSU will begin with actions that have very little impact on the faculty and students of SFU (the public), and progress towards actions that put maximum pressure on the employer (Simon Fraser University). It is only if these forms of paid job action are unsuccessful that escalation to a full work stoppage and picket lines may become necessary.
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Who makes the decisions when it comes to job action?

With the exception of a full work stoppage (picket), decisions about what job action to take, and when, are made by the Strike Committee. This committee is made up of five TSSU members, each representing a different committee within the union, who are elected by the membership at a Special General Meeting following a Strike Vote. All TSSU members are welcome to attend the Strike Committee meetings, and are encouraged to participate in the discussion. Ultimately, after hearing input from everyone present, the decisions will be made by the Strike Committee members. If the Strike Committee feels a full work stoppage (picket) must be considered, the decision will be put to a full membership vote.
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Will I have a say in deciding whether the TSSU will pursue job action?

Absolutely! The decision to begin job action is made in several stages by a vote of the union’s members. The next step is the scheduling of a Strike Vote, where all members—regardless of whether they hold a current contract—will be informed of the date(s) and encouraged to participate. Voting “yes” in a Strike Vote does NOT mean the TSSU will immediately go on strike. Rather, it simply grants the TSSU the legal right, and a clear mandate, to serve the University with 72 hours “strike notice”; that is, notice of whether TSSU members will begin to engage in job action. This typically begins with those forms of job action that do not involve full work stoppages and allow members to still be paid.

Finally, if job action is unsuccessful and a full work stoppage is recommended, we’ll schedule a vote on whether to escalate job action to a full work stoppage (picket). TSSU members will once again be informed of the date(s) and encouraged to participate.
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Why should I participate in job action?

Job action is, simply, the most effective weapon that unions have at their disposal. The more people that support strike action, the shorter it is for everyone. When the TSSU last went on strike in 2012, we had been in bargaining for 2.5 years, with no success. After serving the university with strike notice, we were able to get a collective agreement just two months later. Knowing this, by far the most important reason to participate in job action, as a union member, is that job action only works when we act as a collective. Our strength as a union comes when we act together in solidarity: The more members participating in an action, the greater the impact and the louder our voice. Collective job action shows the employer that union members are invested in getting a fair contract, and are unified in their support of the union’s proposals. Furthermore, if job action is effective in its earlier, less intense stages, there will be no need to escalate to a full work stoppage (picket). It is worth noting that the TSSU has only had to resort to a full work shortage twice in the past 35 years, thanks to the dedication and support of our members.
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What happens if I don’t participate in job action?

The biggest consequence of not participating in job action is that it undermines the TSSU’s solidarity, which means that your fellow members’ efforts to win an improved collective agreement for all of us will be in vain. Further, if job action is not successful, then we will be forced to either escalate job action to full picket lines or accept the employer’s offer. Picket lines will have a much more significant impact on both workers and students. Accepting the employer’s offer would mean we accept all of the cuts to benefits and working conditions that the employer wants. During job action or picket lines, if you continue to do work that has been “struck”, you could be subject to fines, and any money you earn in salary by doing struck work during a full or partial work stoppage would be forfeited. Though we understand that TSSU members want to work, remember that the more you support job action, the more likely we are to get an agreement without having to escalate to a picket.
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Bargaining Progress Questions

Why has bargaining gone on for so long?

Bargaining commenced in May 2014, after the expiration of the Collective Agreement between SFU Administration and TSSU on April 30, 2014. We have currently met with the administration 15 times. The reality is that the SFU Administration has no incentive to bargain and in fact many of their members do not regularly attend bargaining sessions. Only one member of the Administration bargaining team has teaching experience and this member does not regularly attend bargaining. Instead, the only regular attendees are members of SFU Human Resources and some managers from SFU departments. Without pressure, the SFU Administration is happy to let the process drag on to avoid paying any potential wage increase for as long as possible. Dragging out the process benefits the SFU Administration.
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What are the employer’s proposals?

The employer’s proposals are a series of significant concessions. You can read all about them on the Employer Proposals page.
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What about binding arbitration? Isn’t that an option?

Arbitration is only binding when both parties (in this case, the union and the employer) agree to make it binding. In our case, the employer has no incentive to agree to this, since the status quo is working in their favour. On monetary issues, arbitrators do not have to follow government mandates such as “net zero” and could potentially award increases to wages comparable to the increase in inflation.
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How do UVic and UBC compare to SFU?

Our sister union locals at UVic and UBC are also in the process of beginning bargaining with their employers. At this moment, neither of these locals have called strike votes, but we also have no reports of significant progress at the bargaining table.
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Pre Strike Vote Questions

Will there be any meetings before the strike vote?

The TSSU has tentatively scheduled four information sessions for the first weeks of March. There’s no need to attend the whole session and all members of the SFU community are welcome. The dates and times are:

  • Burnaby: Thursday, March 5th, 2:30pm – 4:30pm (MBC 2294/96)
  • Surrey: Wednesday, March 11th, 1pm – 3pm (Sur 5320)
  • Harbour Centre: March 17th, 2pm – 5pm (Soctiabank Lecture Room HC 1315)
  • Burnaby: Thursday, March 19th, 10am – 12pm (MBC 2290/922)

Who is a member and who can vote

The Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) at Simon Fraser University represents the following employees:

  • Teaching Assistants (TAs);
  • Tutor Markers (TMs);
  • Sessionals (Sessional/Adjunct Instructors); and
  • English Language & Culture/Interpretation & Translation Instructors (ELC/ITP)

If you hold any of the above positions in the current or previous two semesters, or are on the ELC/ITP seniority list, then you are a member of the TSSU. Any member of TSSU is eligible to vote in the strike vote. As per BC Labour Law, only the votes of those members who are currently working will be included in the total reported to the BC Labour Relations Board
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How do I vote?

BC Labour Law requires the vote be held via a physical paper ballot and a simple yes / no question asked. Ballots will be open for at least 3 days on each of the SFU Campuses (Burnaby, Surrey and Vancouver) and members will need some form of ID to verify themselves.
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Why are you holding a strike vote now?

The Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) has been bargaining with the employer (Simon Fraser University) since May 2014, following the expiry of our last collective agreement There have been 15 bargaining sessions as of February 19th, 2015 and absolutely no progress has been made. As of this writing, the employer has turned down all our proposals and has asked for several significant concessions. Without some additional pressure, it is the opinion of the contract committee that no progress can be made and we will be forced to accept the employer’s concessions. For more details on the employer’s concessions see Employer Concessions.
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4 thoughts on “Strike FAQ

  1. Will I be affected if I do not have a TA or TM marking my work this semester? In other words, are my grades still withheld?

    • Hi, you will be affected only if the person marking your work is a TSSU member, which is TAs, TMs, or Sessional professors. If you don’t have a TA/TM, there’s still about a 1 in 4 chance that your instructor is a Union member, and there is nothing at all wrong with simply asking them.

      If it is the case, we strongly encourage you to support them by telling them you understand why they have to withhold your grades. That alone takes a huge amount of stress off our members’ minds. If you’re interested, you can also write letters of support for the TSSU to President Petter (sfu_pres@sfu.ca) and the VP Academic, Jon Driver (driver@sfu.ca) that tells them that they should direct their negotiators to sincerely bargain with us instead of stalling.

  2. What happens to those students who are on the Back on Track program?
    They need those grades in order to find out if they are required to withdraw or be on academic probation.

    • We haven’t yet had any students apply for grade release from the Back on Track program. Without knowing all the details, it seems like they would certainly have a case to make to have their grades released. If you happen to know any students in this situation, it would be appreciated if you let them know of the grade appeal process and encouraged them to apply.

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