On June 27, 2019, over thirty members of TSSU joined the Contract Committee at SFU Surrey for negotiations with SFU Administration. Responding to TSSU’s observation that negotiations have been going three months with little progress, SFU Administration argued that our proposals require extensive research and consultation. Citing their workload as cause for delay, SFU Administration continues to stall negotiations.
SFU Administration’s lack of action delays improvements in our working conditions and our students’ learning conditions. TSSU has now presented our proposals twice; Administration has been made aware of our members’ needs, and we have proposed ways to solve the problems our new contract must address:
- TAs are working without pay because contracts contain too little time for preparation and training: in our last membership survey, 48% of TAs reported that they worked over their hours without compensation;
- Sessional Instructors are “always temporary,” are not compensated for numerous aspects of their work, including new course development and directed studies supervision, and new instructors receive little to no mentorship or training;
- More than half of the instructors in the ELC/ITP programs are “temporary,” despite years of service at SFU; they receive no sick leave nor other benefits, nor step increases in pay.
SFU Administration has promised to make counter-proposals that address our members’ issues, but has yet to deliver. We also await responses to several questions, including some involving discrepancies in budgetary data provided by SFU Administration to the Union. Two bargaining dates remain before Fall classes start: July 26 at Harbour Centre in Vancouver, and August 22 in Burnaby.
When asked about past freezes, including the last round of bargaining in which SFU Administration blocked improved benefits for ELC/ITP instructors, Administration admitted that they had the money, but that their hands were tied by the Provincial Government Mandate. We know, though, that similar workers at UBC have received substantive improvements in the past, under the same mandate. After years of freezes, the new Provincial Government Mandate allows for “conditional and modest funding that can be used to drive tangible service improvements.”
During June, TSSU also took part in the Provincial Government Budget Process, to try to deal with the employer’s current allocation of resources, outlining how we need the government to mandate changes in three areas: precarity, housing, and tuition. The high costs of precarious work and housing, from working sick to declining mental health, are borne by workers, students and the public healthcare budget, and the government has the power to ameliorate the situation by mandating increases in continuing positions over temporary ones, allotting more student housing, and freezing tuition.
This was the sixth negotiating session, after the previous two sessions were cancelled by SFU Administration. We are bargaining downtown at the Vancouver Harbour Centre Campus on July 26th; the agenda includes proposals for the English Language and Culture, and Interpretation and Translation program instructors, and fresh proposals integrating rights and working conditions of our newest members, facilitators in the Student Learning Commons, into the Collective Agreement.
To attend all or part of the day, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at (778) 782 4735.