Equity for English Language and Culture, and Interpretation and Translation program instructors

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.

The English Language & Culture and Interpretation & Translation programs (ELC/ITP) operate at SFU’s Harbour Centre campus, as a part of SFU Lifelong Learning . These programs are staffed by around 30 instructors who are members of TSSU. These instructors have seniority rights and typically teach 12-15 hours per week in the classroom. TSSU believes these long-time SFU instructors deserve benefits, professional development and working conditions that recognize their contribution to SFU, and that are on par with the administrative and clerical support staff who work side by side with them and who receive the full SFU benefits package, which includes health and dental benefits, extensive sick leave and long term disability, professional development funding, pension, tuition waiver, and a minimum of 4 weeks of vacation time. ELC/ITP instructors receive only health and dental benefits, minimal sick leave, and limited access to vacation, and no pension or tuition waiver. This disparity within the department is fundamentally unfair, because without the instructors there could be no ELC/ITP program.

The inequity in ELC/ITP extends beyond just benefits. Because of the current department structure, many of these instructors end up teaching 48 weeks per year with only a few days off between terms to take vacation or engage in the committee work, instructional preparation and professional development that is part of every sustainable teaching institution. TSSU wants to move these instructors towards a faculty model comparable to similar instructors at UBC, where instructors are responsible for teaching a certain amount per year, and for duty weeks in which they engage in curriculum and professional development, and other service work essential to the sustainability of the program. ELC/ITP instructors should be recognized as the teaching professionals they are, with working conditions comparable to other similar professionals.

Summary of proposals

A summary of the proposals is available below. The full text of the proposals is always available at the TSSU office at AQ 5129 on Burnaby Campus.

Finish Integrating ELC/ITP into the Collective Agreement Article XV

When ELC / ITP members first unionized, bargaining was already underway and under a tight time constraint due to a provincial government mandate; as a result, a significant portion of their agreement ended up as an appendix to the main TSSU Collective Agreement, with the understanding it would be integrated during future bargaining. In the 2010-12 round, several more articles from the ELC/ITP appendix were brought into the main body of the collective agreement. TSSU is now proposing to complete the process that was left undone in the last two rounds by fully integrating ELC/ITP into the Collective Agreement, which results in zero cost to SFU, and, in fact, reduces the number of pages in the collective agreement.

Equitable benefits

ELC/ITP members currently have benefits similar to temporary employees in other bargaining units on campus. TSSU seeks benefits improvements to bring our ELC/ITP members into alignment with the administrative and clerical support staff that work side by side with them in the ELC and ITP programs.

Cap ELC/ITP class sizes

One of the main features of the ELC/ITP program has always been small class sizes, with lots of essential one on one interaction between the instructor and students. TSSU believes the long recognized class size of 15 students per class for these programs should be put into the collective agreement, because the department has recently started to increase class sizes by 20-30%, effectively cutting wages for these instructors who are already paid well below their peers at UBC.

Remove the loopholes that SFU uses to convert continuing instructors to temporary

SFU has exploited their reading of the current collective agreement to reduce the number of continuing instructors in the ELC/ITP program. They achieved this first by only hiring people to temporary positions, which TSSU partially resolved in the last round by converting instructors who were regularly teaching to continuing positions. Now SFU has started recalling continuing instructors as temporary instructors, if they are laid off. SFU desires to make all ELC/ITP instructors temporary so they can use them in a manner similar to sessional instructors. Making these instructors temporary ultimately denies them access to the health and dental benefits which TSSU won in bargaining. TSSU wants to clarify the contract language to ensure that temporary instructors are defined as only those hired to replace continuing instructors. This would ensure that SFU could no longer exploit temporary workers to eliminate the benefits of their current staff.

Build a faculty model for ELC/ITP

ELC members work 8 week terms, of which there are 6 in a year. If instructors teach all 6 terms, which most do in order to make ends meet, they never get time for professional development or to take a vacation over five days, because of the maximum of five days between terms. TSSU envisions a faculty model for ELC/ITP instructors, where instructors are responsible for teaching a certain amount per year, and then have the remainder of the year for committee work, instructional preparation and professional development. In addition, ELC instructors would also have an actual opportunity to take their earned vacation time. TSSU also believes the faculty model should extend to the hiring of new instructors. Faculty members are involved in the selection process of all new faculty members and TSSU believes that ELC members, who have the most intimate knowledge of the requirements of their jobs, should be involved in the selection process for new instructor hires.

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