Bargaining Update: Overview of Session 1

April 17, 2019

After the exchange of proposals at our first meeting, both TSSU and the University have had the opportunity to ask some clarifying questions and start work on nailing down the key issues to create a mutually supportive Collective Agreement.  One of the priorities is to identify which of the proposals tabled will impact the overall cost of the Collective Agreement, as any negotiated change which incurs cost must be taken from the envelope specified by the PSEC mandate.  We feel it is important that the Unions are always kept informed of the potential cost of their proposals which may impact our ability to put money directly into the pockets of our employees. This in turn enables the parties to begin to prioritize their proposals.

Over the years TSSU has asked us to consider the nature of the employment we offer to our TSSU members, and we have brought those considerations into our proposals as best we can.  We have identified some significant ways to improve the stability of employment for our English Language & Culture/Interpretation & Translation (ELC/ITP) instructors.  By offering guaranteed hours and salary to the continuing ELC/ITP instructors, we ameliorate the need for them to work at other universities.  The University’s proposed language will also provide our employees with much more control over their working lives as we will be able to plan and schedule much further in advance.

The University has also presented proposals which improve student financial support through employment opportunities and offer meaningful teaching experience to future academics.   Teaching Assistants, Tutor Markers and Sessional Instructors are offered positions on a semesterly basis. The nature of this type of work is an indication that this employment relationship is not intended to be continuing.  Those TSSU members who are students and who have benefited from the experience offered by these positions are well equipped to go forward in their careers and take up continuing positions.  The University will be insisting that changes are needed to ensure that ongoing support and opportunities are available to our graduate students and Postdoctoral Fellows.

Since the implementation of the last collective agreement, data has shown that a significant amount of the Sessional Instructor work is being assigned to external applicants, such as non-SFU graduate students, through the current application of the seniority language. By way of example, in the top 100 places on the Sessional Instructor seniority list, only 3 are currently registered as graduate students with SFU and, in the entire seniority list of 707 Sessional Instructor’s more than 77% are not currently registered.  The University has proposed the introduction of a priority system similar to that used for TA and TM appointments. It is our goal to ensure that we can continue to provide the experience and opportunities to those TSSU members who are students and future academics, and will benefit most.

Bargaining continues, with dates set throughout May and June.