1155: the number of days without a contract since the Employer agreed to recognize TSSU as the Union for RAs
On the 1155th day without a contract, the Employer finally returned to the bargaining table with some counterproposals: minor changes to the language. At the same time, their bargaining team clarified that they no longer have a numerical wage proposal for RAs. Instead, they have an “aspirational statement” about a living wage. Last we checked, landlords don’t accept aspirations as rent payments. This is yet another effort by the Employer to delay a fair deal for RAs.
Most research workers at SFU have been without raises or benefits for years. The living wage is now $24.08 / hour. Many grad student RAs have seen decreases in their RA pay, while other groups such as TAs have seen yearly wage increases. All RAs deserve a living wage on top of benefits like extended health and dental, international student health fee coverage, and sick leave. These are benefits that every TA, TM, Sessional Instructor, and SLC Graduate Facilitator already receives, and which the Employer can afford from its $170+ million annual research income.
When pushed on why SFU was going backward and withdrawing its $17 / hour RA wage proposal from November, 2021, the Employer said it was causing them “issues.” Of course, this ridiculously low wage is a public embarrassment, particularly when SFU is touting itself as being the first living wage campus, but the reason to withdraw it should be because it was a travesty in the first place, not because Senior Administration wants to save face. This Employer should be even more embarrassed that 1155 days after recognizing an RA union they cannot even find the time or motivation to put a wage proposal on the bargaining table. Bargaining will continue on Jan 24, 25 and Feb 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 15, and 16, with RA issues being the focus on Feb 2 and 9.