Since the last update, TSSU has had three bargaining sessions with the Employer. These sessions have demonstrated the Employer’s refusal to understand teaching and working conditions at SFU and reticence to address them. The Employer’s spokesperson suggested that TSSU “is a union that by the nature of the work you do is at risk from precarity, and we don’t want to further that risk in our proposals.” This could not be further from the truth. The proposals made by TSSU make strides to solve the problems faced by our membership. The proposals presented by the Employer, however, solve few to no clear problems and would instead further entrench the precarity of our work at SFU. TSSU’s position is that educational work is not “by nature” precarious but is made precarious by the Employer’s deliberately making it so. This is clear from the proposals made by the Employer, as well as their consistent delaying tactics. The recent bargaining sessions continue a pattern TSSU has observed over the past several years: the Employer delays bargaining by feigning ignorance. As we enter a new year, the Employer must start making real proposals and stop with the excuses.
See it with your own eyes, and come to bargaining! Bargaining will continue on Jan 24, 25 and Feb 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 15, and 16.
Details of each bargaining session below.
November 23, 2022:
TSSU proposed a number of changes to strengthen the rights of Sessional Instructors. These proposed changes include creating pathways to longer term positions in the Faculty Association, reduce the burden of re-applying for previously taught courses, securing replacements for sessionals taking sick leave, and guaranteeing compensation for the ancillary work already performed by sessionals, such as revising and updating course materials, supervising Teaching Assistants, and mentoring other Sessional Instructors.
The Employer, on the other hand, has proposed eliminating landmark rights of Sessional Instructors such as seniority rights and the ability to earn a Limited Term Lecturer position within the Faculty Association. These hard-won gains came as a result of our 2015 strike, and TSSU will resist any efforts by The Employer to revoke them. Further, the Employer pushed back against compensation for the ancillary work done by Sessional Instructors, arguing that these constitute monetary proposals which are to be discussed at a later date.
November 29, 2022:
General Articles are articles of the Collective Agreement that apply to all members of the Bargaining Unit. TSSU has proposed many improvements upon these articles, such as providing time off for academic conferences to support research and protocols for eliminating harassment in the workplace.
Even on these constructive, common-sense proposals, the Employer did not meaningfully engage and even expressed reservations about removing harassers from classrooms and articulating a clear timeline that would ensure TSSU members can have their disabilities accommodated by the time they start work.
Our instructors in ELC/ITP/ITA programs continue to work in precarious positions teaching up to 16 hours of class per week. While they have long-established seniority rights, the available work fluctuates greatly term to term, with many instructors frequently going without work. Unlike other comparable programs at UBC and UVic, the Employer chose to lay off almost all of the instructors during the pandemic while keeping the Administration fully staffed despite a lack of administrative work.
It is long past time for the Employer to commit to ELC/ITP/ITA Instructors by ensuring they have a regular teaching year, including paid weeks where they can prepare for upcoming terms. Instead, the Employer’s proposed a substantially longer probation period, including an attempt to dismantle the well established definition of a contact hour. Just as with Sessionals, the Employer has made their position clear that they intend to eliminate hard-earned rights in the Collective Agreement, rather than addressing the existent and increasing needs of the workers upon whom the SFU relies.
November 30, 2022:
Graduate Facilitators (MMC & SLC)
On Graduate Facilitators, TSSU proposed common language for both the Media and Maker Commons (MMC) and the Student Learning Commons (SLC). TSSU outlined how the common language proposals respect the differences between the programs. The Union’s position is that if a single TA article can address the needs of TAs teaching field school on another continent, writing intensive courses in Surrey, and conducting a Math workshop in Burnaby, then a single Graduate Facilitator Article can address the needs of the fewer than 30 workers in MMC and SLC. TSSU also answered questions about some of the key improvements GFs requested, like getting assignments sooner and not being overwhelmed with administrative tasks that detract from time with students. The Employer, however, insisted upon separating workers in the Media and Maker Commons (MMC), desiring to grant fewer rights to them than have been earned by GFs in the Student Learning Commons (SLC).
TAs were the topic of the second half of the day, and the Employer did not alter its egregious proposals seeking to dismantle the existing priority system and reduce the number of minimum Base Units that members are entitled to—or respond to our criticisms of these positions. Instead, they spent the afternoon asking questions regarding the definition of blended education (which can be found on their website), TUGs, and other minor details.