TSSU bargaining update: arbitration clarification and next steps

December 12, 2022

This fall, SFU and the TSSU resumed collective bargaining negotiations following the September 15th arbitration decision from Arbitrator Jim Dorsey.

Recently, the arbitrator also confirmed SFU’s definition that some graduate students are in an employment relationship, and some are in an educational relationship. This clarification allowed SFU to move forward with a survey that will provide data to help expedite next steps. This work is a priority for SFU, and we are hopeful that a final agreement can be reached with the TSSU early in the new year.

Recent activities

In November, SFU engaged arbitrator Jim Dorsey to clarify points which SFU and the TSSU interpret differently: how the September 15th decision defines employment, versus scholarship, with respect to research. 

The arbitrator is a neutral third party who confirmed SFU’s interpretation: some graduate students who receive compensation from grants as scholarship and/or stipend are in an employment relationship, and some are in an educational relationship. 

Following the arbitration clarification, SFU sent a survey to Principal Investigators to determine if the graduate students supporting their projects are in an employment relationship or in an educational relationship. 

Next steps

The survey results will help SFU classify which graduate students should be classified as research assistants and therefore, employees of SFU to be included in the TSSU collective agreement. The survey is now closed and the SFU’s Research Personnel Initiative team is expected to provide aggregated data to SFU and TSSU on an ongoing basis.

We recognize this process has taken longer than anticipated and appreciate your patience. Negotiating a first collective agreement for an employee group is complex, but we remain committed to reaching a fair agreement with the TSSU as quickly as possible. 

Visit the SFU Collective Bargaining hub to stay up to date on bargaining negotiations related to the TSSU: https://www.sfu.ca/dashboard/faculty-staff/bargaining-2022/updates/tssu.html