Bargaining Update: Who Benefits From Temporary Employment?

July 16, 2019

As a large organization, SFU offers a wide range of employment opportunities – trades, clerical, instructors and technicians.  While the majority of our employees are employed on continuing terms there is always a need in any organization to employ staff to fill vacant positions or to perform short term work assignments on a temporary basis.

As a University, SFU has a unique opportunity to be able to offer a significant number of temporary employment opportunities to our students.  These employment opportunities provide them not only with financial support but also with valuable work experience that prepares them for future careers in academia or elsewhere.  Some of these employment opportunities are covered by the SFU/TSSU Collective Agreement such as teaching assistants (TAs), tutor markers (TMs) and sessional instructors (SIs).

With the exception of some ELC and ITP instructors, all of the TSSU appointments are temporary.  They are not intended to be continuing employment. Working as a TA, TM or SI offers our students the chance to develop their skills in a progressive manner as well as providing additional learning in their current studies.  While these experiences may support future opportunities if these students wish to pursue long term academic careers, they are not, and nor does the University support, these assignments as a way of bypassing the rigorous selection process for our continuing faculty.  By maintaining the integrity of our selection process we ensure that we attract and employ the very best instructors and keep our status as a top Canadian research university.

Our Faculty, CUPE and Poly Party agreements also have terms for temporary employees who may use this form of employment to make their working life more flexible or as a starting point in their careers. 

We respect and value our temporary employees and wish to offer terms and conditions that help meet their needs; this is what we expect to negotiate with TSSU – appropriate improvements to terms and conditions to support our students in the development of their employment skills.