SFU and TSSU Arbitration Update

September 22, 2022

On September 13, 2022, Arbitrator Dorsey issued their decision regarding the definition of research assistants for inclusion in the TSSU going forward.

The Arbitrator award includes several orders for SFU and TSSU to implement. It confirms that an individual must be an employee under the Labour Code in order to be transitioned and ultimately brought into the TSSU Bargaining Unit. However, there was no process in place to efficiently determine who is an employee of the university in regards to individuals on scholarships/stipends, which led to the university not meeting all the terms in Voluntary Recognition Agreement (VRA). That is where the university failed, we are sorry for this, and we are committed to doing better.

Within the decision, the arbitrator acknowledged that SFU did not act in bad faith. Operational challenges, including pandemic impacts, resulted in SFU not meeting the timelines built into the VRA.

SFU has begun working on what the arbitrator outlined in the order, including creating a working group to define “scholarship” to assist departments in properly differentiating graduate students receiving scholarship, from those who should be classified as employees. We have also added capacity to the Research Personnel team.

The university is committed to transition all individuals who are classified as employees under the Labour Code to employment with SFU by the beginning of 2023. SFU will retroactively change payment for the academic term from scholarship to wages where required.

SFU values and appreciates our research assistant staff and the university remains committed to reaching a fair agreement as quickly as possible.

The process for negotiating a first collective agreement is complex. The process has taken longer than we had hoped for and we thank you for your patience.

Now that this arbitration has concluded, we can work towards a final collective agreement and will be resuming meetings with TSSU on September 22, 2022.