TSSU forces SFU Administration to back down

TSSU is happy to report that today after a tough morning of negotiations with the Employer, we have signed off on the first significant article in this round of bargaining. After TSSU’s representative repeatedly explained our stance on the significance of seniority rights for ELC/ITP workers, the Employer’s bargaining team reassessed their concessionary position and agreed with a TSSU proposal. ELC/ITP workers will be able to access seniority starting after their 9th week, as opposed to the 13th week in our previous Collective Agreement. Signing off on this issue represents the first substantive change in the Employer’s stance. TSSU sees this as evidence of the success of our members’ job actions in putting increased pressure on the Employer.

The major disappointment of the day occurred in the early afternoon. When our representative attempted to discuss guaranteeing graduate student access to TA and Sessional work, the Employer’s spokesperson interrupted her over and over, blocking her from making her arguments while the Employer’s whole committee was in the room. Before TSSU had the opportunity to make these points, the academic member of the Employer’s bargaining team had to leave. Contrary to the commitment from the VP Academic that there would “always be someone with academic experience at the bargaining table,” and that if their “regular academic bargaining team member” were unavailable, “someone with comparable experience” would be present as an alternate, TSSU was disappointed to learn from the Employer that no other faculty member would be joining us for the remainder of the day. TSSU had planned to discuss our full set of proposals regarding two issues: access to TA, TM, and Sessional positions for graduate students; and a number of outstanding concerns regarding our ELC/ITP proposals. Since our experience has shown that these conversations are fruitless without the presence of faculty advisors and ELC/ITP managers, their absence effectively ended the afternoon.

Though TSSU informed the Employer of our full availability throughout the rest of the summer, the Employer responded that they could not meet before the last two weeks of August. This means that the next bargaining dates will overlap with exam period and the deadline to submit final grades. Since the contract negotiations are clearly a low priority item for the Employer until the end of the term, grade withholding will be more important than ever in the coming weeks. TSSU’s Contract Committee sends thanks and congratulations to members for the solidarity they continue to show throughout this strike.

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