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.

2 thoughts on “Full details of SFU Admin’s Final Package

    • Antone, I could not agree with you more! As a Graduate student, I am offended by the Administration’s attempt to bribe me by excluding me from the most heinous of their cuts; I’m likely to be a Sessional Instructor in a few years, and this proposal would make that situation untenable.

      Get out and vote! Vote “no” to this garbage on September 22nd!

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