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RA Bargaining Update

Update #8: 17 bucks an hour: a dying wage

After two years of delays intended to block a fair contract, SFU Admin finally presented their proposal on Research Assistant (RA) wages and benefits:

  • A minimum wage of $17 / hr with no increases for the life of the contract when the Metro Vancouver living wage is currently $20.52 / hour.
  • No benefits for RAs who happen to be students, which means no MSP / International Student Health Fee coverage. Instead they offered an extra 7% ($1.19 / hr) in place of  benefits, leaves and vacation. The law, however, would require the vast majority of that to go for vacation and stat holiday pay, instead.
  • A bare-bones benefits package of extended health, dental, paltry sick leave, and vacation but only for select non-student RAs contracts of 20 hours / week or more and of duration greater than 4 months.

Research work is as necessary to the University as teaching work, and RAs deserve comparable wages to TAs. It’s common for the same person to work as a TA and RA in the same field with similar qualifications. SFU’s proposal is barely above the Employment Standards Act minimums and tarnishes the contributions of RAs. We demand SFU stop devaluing RA work.

TSSU was founded as a feminist union. For over 40 years TSSU has stood up to ensure that our contract supports justice for our members who work at the University. Over the decades we have taken the BC Government to court and won inclusion of international students in public healthcare (MSP), built a childcare fund to help address the needs of parents, and built an extended healthcare plan so that those with medical needs will not be left behind. In bargaining for teaching positions, our members voted overwhelmingly to take a 2% wage increase and put it towards improved benefits instead. Fighting for justice for our members is what we do!

There cannot be Equity, if those with expensive prescriptions have to choose between medicine and food, or research is valued less than teaching

There cannot be Diversity, if international student workers net $900 less a year while rents soar

There cannot be Inclusion, if parents cannot afford childcare and other costs, or students are not included in eligibility for benefit plans

Bargaining is a reflection of priorities: President Johnson and SFU Admin have made their priorities clear. They throw away countless dollars on frivolous and insincere communication plans and external consultants, but will pinch every penny when it comes to research workers.

TSSU demands SFU gets serious and bargains a fair contract for RAs, that means:

  • including all RAs in the Union, as was agreed in 2019
  • providing benefits and wages for all RAs, comparable to teaching staff including MSP, extended health and dental coverage
  • respecting the critical contributions that RAs give SFU

We need YOUR help to get a fair RA contract! 

  1. Sign our petition which will send an email to SFU’s President
  2. Come to our celebration on November 19, 4pm at Convocation Mall on Burnaby Campus
  3. Spread the word to other SFU community members!

References