TSSU had two more bargaining sessions with the Employer last week, on Wednesday the 15th and Thursday the 16th. At these sessions we continued to discuss proposed changes to the articles of the Collective Agreement concerning Sessional Instructors and Teaching Assistants, but little progress was made. The Employer continues to stall.
Concerning Teaching Assistants, the Employer brought to the table, in their spokesperson’s words “not a proposal, obviously,” but just more questions—many of which TSSU has answered twice already. The Employer continues to pursue lowering the minimum Base Units to which TAs are entitled, while making vague suggestions about moving to an hourly wage system but not calling it a proposal.
When Mechatronic Systems Engineering in Surrey illegally implemented the Employer’s suggested system, TSSU spent years fighting back through arbitration and forced a massive payout to graduate student TAs who had been exploited while being coerced into keeping quiet. That climate of coercion and intimidation also spawned multiple external investigations and ongoing civil litigation against SFU. Now the Employer’s spokesperson keeps suggesting that Mechatronics model be implemented as the standard model for the University. Again we told the Employer no.
On Sessional Instructors, the Employer did actually bring proposals to the table—but ones that would take away rights from our members. ones. The Employer’s proposed cuts attack both key victories from our 2015 strike:
- eliminating of right to an earned Limited Term Lecturer (LTL) position in the Faculty Association through the regular workload of a Sessional Instructor; and
- dismantling the existing Sessional Seniority system, in effect giving the employer total autonomy over who gets hired for Sessional Instructor jobs, bringing us back to the bygone era when new management would take over and terminate all the long-term Sessional Instructors. Favouritism and arbitrary decisions were in common practice.
All of these are rights that TSSU has won through successive rounds of collective bargaining and strikes. We told the employer any concessions were unacceptable. They expect us to give, while they take. They know the more they take from us, the more car allowances, high pay, and slush fund benefits they can provide to the Senior “Leaders” at the institution. All while those leaders outsource their obligations to bargain with us to consultants they fly in.
The next bargaining is scheduled for Wednesday Feb 22 and will focus on Mentors in the Faculty of Education.