May 15th Bargaining Update: Happy TSSU Day!

For the first time in 13 months of bargaining, today the Union and the Employer agreed to and signed off on one item. This change only clarified existing wording (called “housekeeping” in bargaining speak). While they remain unwilling to discuss our core issues of concern, we hope that this small step indicates that we can persuade the Employer to engage with us.

Reaching agreement on this issue demonstrates that three day bargaining sessions, which allow us to build momentum, can be efficient. Accordingly, TSSU offered a number of other three-day periods for future bargaining, but the Employer responded by confirming only a total of five single days in June and July.

There are two other significant practical challenges to bargaining. The Employer continues to insist on negotiating only during what it calls “core business hours,” putting an arbitrary deadline on discussions, which TSSU would rather continue until they reach a natural completion point. Another obstacle was that throughout these past three days, there were no academics on the Employer’s side of the table. It is difficult to discuss ways to maintain and enhance the high quality of teaching that TSSU members perform at SFU when the people we’re talking to have no firsthand knowledge of the circumstances we face in the classroom.

TSSU expanded on our vision of professional teaching today, with particular reference to Sessional Instructors. Although many institutions here in BC and elsewhere in Canada are making improvements to conditions for Sessionals, SFU is falling behind. TSSU reiterated our main concerns about Sessionals, affirming that these skilled teachers deserve appropriate departmental orientations, reasonable workloads, and higher levels of job security through seniority. This is a position we are committed to continuing to pursue through contract negotiations, as an aspect of our vision of quality education at SFU.

Don’t forget to come join us tonight at the Highland Pub to celebrate the inaugural TSSU Day! We’ll be there from 5PM onwards, and we hope you’ll swing by for a (free!) burger and a (cheap!) drink. Bring any questions you have, and remember any member can be an advisor to future bargaining sessions. Our next dates are June 3, 17, 24 – email for details.

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