Labour Update

This website is intended to provide regular updates on contract negotiations and employee relations for the SFU community. Please click on the following link to return to the Human Resources homepage. 

April 19, 2015

Setting the Record Straight - Essential Services and Timing

As advised in our Friday morning April 17 Labour Update, essential services must be in place across the University prior to a union commencing any job action.

Immediately on notification from the TSSU that they were considering job action, the University prepared essential service memorandums for both Poly Party and CUPE 3338 that provided for minimum staffing levels to run the powerhouse and maintain the the Animal Care Facilities. These memorandums were prepared for the Unions on April 1. The staffing levels set out in the memorandums are consistent with the staffing levels set out and agreed to in past essential service designations.

CUPE 3338 agreed with the levels and signed off on the memorandum on April 17.

While the Poly Party has indicated that they intend to sign off on the levels proposed, they have also indicated that they wish to consult with the Union representing the Operating Engineers prior to doing so.

The University advised the Labour Relations Board on Friday morning that we are waiting for sign off from the Poly Party.

Once essential service levels have been designated by the Labour Relations Board, the 72 hours’ notice to commence job action may begin. The Union has informed their membership that the overtime ban will apply to English Language & Culture and Interpretation & Translation Instructors.

We will update this page once the essential services order is issued, and will continue to share information and clarifications that we believe is of interest to our SFU community.

We would strongly prefer to avoid any disruption to our students’ academic pursuits or our broader SFU community and to continue to work with TSSU at the bargaining table to develop a Collective Agreement that supports a strong student-focussed, sustainable learning and research environment across all SFU campuses.

April 18, 2015

Late yesterday, the Deputy Minister Job, Tourism and Skills Training and Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat issued a letter that directs the Labour Relations Board to designate essential services at SFU, pursuant to the Labour Relations Code.

This letter precludes any job action from occurring until essential services have been designated by the Labour Relations Board.

April 17, 2015

SFU Receives Strike Notice from TSSU

The University received strike notice from the TSSU on the afternoon of April 16. The TSSU’s notice indicates they intend an overtime ban.

Consistent with Labour Relations Board (LRB) requirements, no labour action can take place until an essential services order from the Labour Relations Board is in place. The University has been working with its unions since April 1 to reach agreement on essential services levels in anticipation of potential job action. The University has made an application to the LRB for an essential services order. We are currently working with the LRB to finalize the order. The LRB will issue a decision to designate essential services for SFU.

We would strongly prefer to avoid any disruption to our students’ academic pursuits or our broader SFU community. We were surprised and disappointed to receive strike notice from TSSU in the midst of bargaining meetings where we felt we were making positive progress. Both parties have agreed to bargaining sessions on May 13, 14 and 15 when we hope to continue progress against shared and individual goals on various items that remain on the bargaining table. The University has developed specific proposals that we believe are in the interest of TSSU members and our SFU community which we have not yet had an opportunity to fully explore in negotiations.

SFU believes that constructive and mutually beneficial negotiations happen at the bargaining table. Our strong preference is to reach a negotiated settlement for the benefit of TSSU members and all our campus community.

Regular classes have concluded for this semester and exams are underway. We will keep students, employees and our community informed on how this TSSU action might affect them as we learn more. We will continue to provide updates on Twitter through @SFULabourUpdate and this webpage.

Our strong preference is to continue to work with TSSU at the bargaining table to develop a Collective Agreement that supports a strong student-focussed, sustainable learning and research environment across all SFU campuses.

April 13, 2015

SFU – TSSU:  Setting the Record Straight

SFU Administration believes that constructive and mutually beneficial negotiations happen at the bargaining table. Our strong preference is to return to negotiations with TSSU to proceed with interest-based bargaining for the benefit of TSSU members and all our campus community.

We are encouraged that TSSU has confirmed that they will return to bargaining as scheduled on April 16, where we believe constructive discussions can take place. The University has developed specific proposals that we believe are in the interest of TSSU members and our SFU community which we have not yet had an opportunity to fully explore in negotiations.

Labour negotiation teams generally focus and agree on non-monetary topics before proceeding to discussions of monetary topics including compensation and benefits. TSSU’s cancellation of scheduled March negotiations dates to call a strike vote delayed our opportunity to fully explore and discuss all non-monetary proposals, and in due course evolve discussions to monetary negotiations and a new Collective Agreement.

We do not believe in bargaining through the media or public domain, and we will not do so.

We do, however, believe in communicating clearly and openly with our campus community. We believe that it is important to correct misinformation or inaccuracies that might negatively impact our students, faculty and staff, or broader community. With that in mind, we will be sharing Labour Updates that set the record straight and provide factual context for any statements by others that we believe warrant clarification or correction.

Again, our strong preference is to continue to work with TSSU at the bargaining table to develop a Collective Agreement that supports a strong student-focussed, sustainable learning and research environment across all SFU campuses.

The first of these clarifications appears below.  Please check back regularly for others.

Setting the Record Straight:  Job Security and Fairness for Sessional Instructors

We are proposing that priority for Sessional Instructor assignments be offered to SFU graduate students*. We have proposed that current SFU students will have the Right of First Refusal and Priority for Sessional Instructor assignments. The University’s proposal is focused on the recognition that teaching related experience in their field of study can be of tremendous value to a graduate student.

These assignments also provide financial support to help pay our students’ tuition and expenses, and at the same time provide classroom experience for future academic pursuits.

Other TSSU members who are not current SFU students will still have access to these assignments but will not have priority over current students.

We believe an “SFU student first” approach in prioritizing SFU Sessional Instructor work is consistent with the University’s principles and aligns with our academic and research commitments.

*Note:  The University’s Labour Update on March 18 also mentioned this provision for post-doctoral students.  While we are interested in including post-doctoral students, we have not yet adjusted our proposal to reflect this interest.

April 7, 2015

Update on SFU-SFUFA bargaining

On May 15, 2014, members of the SFU Faculty Association voted in favour of certification. The University and the SFUFA have been meeting regularly since the vote, and resumed negotiations last week after a scheduled two-week March break. During this meeting the two parties exchanged non-monetary proposals in a productive bargaining session, and agreed to schedule bi-monthly bargaining meetings for the months of April, May and June.  

March 27, 2015

Update on SFU-TSSU Bargaining

We understand that TSSU members have voted in favour of a strike. The University remains committed to a negotiated settlement that can only take place with both sides at the bargaining table, striving to achieve a new collective agreement. Even with a strike vote in hand, the Union can elect to return to the bargaining table and resume negotiations. For more information on how this might occur, and other possible resolutions and next steps, please see our March 25 Update below.

March 25, 2015

Update on SFU-TSSU Bargaining

The TSSU left the bargaining table on February 19th and cancelled the bargaining sessions which had been previously scheduled to take place in the month of March. The Union is currently holding a strike vote, with voting taking place on March 23, 24 and 25 at each of the three campuses. The University remains committed to a negotiated settlement that can only take place with both sides at the bargaining table, striving to achieve a new collective agreement. While progress at the table has been slow, this is not uncommon in negotiations with TSSU.

The results of the TSSU strike vote should be known shortly after the conclusion and tabulation of the vote. A successful strike vote does not necessarily lead to a strike. The Labour Relation Code ("Code") provides that various procedures must be followed before a strike can take place.

With a strike vote in hand, the Union can elect to return to the bargaining table, and resume negotiations, probably emphasizing that it now has an enhanced mandate from its membership. Such renewed negotiations can take place with or without the services of a mediator, but either side is free to make an application to the Labour Relations Board ("LRB") under Part 7 of the Code to have the LRB appoint a mediator,  who is mandated to confer with the parties and assist them to conclude a collective agreement. A Union can not strike while LRB-appointed mediation is ongoing.

In the event that talks break down, TSSU must not declare or authorize a strike until

  • written notice has been served on the University and has been filed with the LRB
  • 72 hours or longer have elapsed since the written notice was given. 

If a mediation officer has been appointed by the LRB, the Union can not go on strike until 48 hours or longer have elapsed since the Union has asked the mediator to "book out" thereby terminating the mediation process. 

Also where an Essential Services Order is required, TSSU can not go out on strike until at least 72 hours after that Order has been filed with the LRB. An Essential Services Order is required at the University to deal with issues such providing for minimum staffing levels to run the University powerhouse and for the maintenance of the Animal Care Facilities. The University is currently in the process of determining appropriate essential service levels and coming to an agreement with  CUPE and the PolyParty in this regard.

It is also to be noted that should TSSU elect to go on strike this does not mean that pickets would immediately follow. A strike takes place when a union is involved in "job action" and this can take many forms such as a refusal to work overtime, refusal to perform certain duties such as refusing to mark student assignments or to submit student grades. You may recall that during last year’s province wide K-12 teacher's strike, the teachers initially went on strike by refusing to perform certain of their duties, including not completing student report cards with resulting reductions to teachers’ salaries.  

The University remains committed to fruitful collective bargaining and awaits TSSU's return to the bargaining table.

March 18, 2015

Update on SFU-TSSU Bargaining:

The Collective Agreement between the University and the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) covering Teaching Assistants, Tutor Markers, Sessional Instructors, and Instructors in the English Language and Culture, Interpretation and Translation Program (ELC/ITP) expired on April 30, 2014.

To reach a new Collective Agreement, the two parties began collective bargaining on June 4, 2014. During negotiations the University has consistently emphasized its interest in finding a negotiated solution by developing a common understanding of the various issues or problems that were brought to the bargaining table by each side. The University is seeking to find mutually beneficial solutions.  

At the first bargaining meeting between the parties, the Union tabled all of their language proposals. In subsequent meetings, the University tabled its language proposals after extensive discussion with the Union in an effort to find common ground. In addition, the University has subsequently tabled a number of counter proposals, in an attempt to make progress at the bargaining table. Among the substantive issues, the University has proposed:

- That SFU graduate students and post-doctoral fellows will have priority for Sessional Instructor assignments over externals, (similar to the priority structure currently in place for TAs and TMs)

- An improvement to the efficiency of the grievance and arbitration processes

- More control for TSSU over the administration of the Child Care Bursary Funds

- Remove the requirement to produce hard copies of the collective agreements in favour of electronic documents, with hard copies available if requested

- Amendments to the operational language applicable to the ELC/ITP Programs designed to strengthen their ability to compete for international students and create more TSSU employment opportunities

- A proposal to review the duplication of benefits available to SFU students who may have access to the same or similar benefits through their student societies

To date, none of the University’s proposals or counter-proposals have been agreed to by the TSSU. The TSSU has rejected all of the University’s language proposals surrounding the ELC/ITP group.   

Since June 4, 2014 the Parties have met a total of thirteen times. The last meeting was held on February 19, 2015.

Following the bargaining session on February 19, the TSSU informed the University’s bargaining committee that it would not attend any of the pre-scheduled bargaining sessions in March.  On February 24, 2015, TSSU membership met and agreed to hold a strike vote. The vote is scheduled to begin on March 18, 2015.  

The University remains committed to achieving a mutually beneficial agreement with the TSSU, and to that end looks forward to resuming negotiations with the Union as soon as possible.

March 13, 2015

Update on TSSU Bargaining:

The Collective Agreement between the University and the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) covering Teaching Assistants, Tutor Markers, Sessional Instructors, and Instructors in the English Language and Culture, Interpretation and Translation Program (ELC/ITP) expired on April 30, 2014.

The University’s bargaining committee, which has met 13 times with the TSSU, is composed of representatives from various sectors of the campus community:

Chris Hatty – Director, Labour & Employee Relations
Lindsay Wright – Advisor, Labour & Employee Relations
Peter Liljedahl – Associate Professor, Graduate Studies, Faculty of Education
Colleen Wood - Program Director, English Language and Culture Program, Lifelong Learning
Susanne Vlcek – Director, Administration, Office of the Dean, Faculty of Science
Bev Davino – Manager, Academic & Administrative Services, Department of Psychology (FASS)
Monica Swanson – Manager, Special Projects, Human Resources
Brian Naicker – Director, Centre for Online and Distance Education
Wendy Steinberg – Program Director, Continuing Studies/Lifelong Learning

The last bargaining session between the two parties occurred on February 19, 2015. Following that session, the TSSU informed the bargaining committee that it would not attend any of the pre-scheduled bargaining sessions in March and had decided to seek further input from their members. On February 24, 2015, TSSU membership met and agreed to hold a strike vote.

The University believes a fair settlement can only be achieved through active bargaining.

All of the proposals tabled by the University’s committee are rooted in the principles guiding the University’s negotiations:

- To provide additional financial support for our Teaching Assistants, Tutor Markers, and Sessional Instructors
- To strengthen the ELC and ITP Programs’ positions in an increasingly competitive international market
- To provide valuable teaching experience and employment opportunities for SFU graduate and post-doctoral students

The University remains committed to achieving a mutually beneficial agreement with the TSSU, and awaits the Union’s return to the bargaining table as soon as possible.

March 12, 2015

On May 15, 2014, members of the SFU Faculty Association voted in favour of certification. The University’s negotiation team has subsequently met four times with the SFUFA since the vote to develop an inaugural collective agreement between the two parties. The last meeting between the University and the SFUFA took place on February 23, 2015.

During the initial meetings, the parties exchanged language proposals for introductory collective agreement articles. Following the initial exchange the University’s negotiation team felt that the process would be more effective if the language proposals were placed in the context of the entire agreement.

The parties have since taken a schedule break, with the University’s team using this period to consult with stakeholders and prepare draft articles for the entire agreement.

The negotiations are set to resume on March 30, 2015, when both parties will present proposals for all items (with the exception of salary discussions).

November 28, 2014

For information on the upcoming Faculty Association Negotations, please visit our update page available here:
http://www.sfu.ca/labourupdate/facultyassociation.html

September 18, 2014

The TSSU and the University met as scheduled on September 16, and resumed negotiations. The Parties discussed a number of bargaining proposals, and the University's committee reported that they are encouraged with the process as the discussions have been productive and informative. The Parties will meet again on September 30, 2014.

September 11, 2014

The University and the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) resumed negotiations on August 26, after a break during the summer months.

The Union reviewed their language proposals surrounding teaching assistants, tutor markers and sessional instructors. The University tabled and reviewed its language proposals on the grievance procedure, arbitration and tutor marker appointment priority.

The Union has asked the University to provide more detail on a number of the initial bargaining proposals; the University has agreed to do so prior to our next scheduled bargaining session.

The parties are scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, September 16.

July 10, 2014

Update on TSSU Bargaining

The collective agreement between the University and the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) covering Teaching Assistants, Tutor Markers, Sessional Instructors, and Instructors in the English Language and Culture, Interpretation and Translation Program (ELC/ITP) expired on April 30, 2014.

As part of the bargaining process, the University and the TSSU reached a protocol agreement that includes a commitment by each side to engage in an orderly, productive, and respectful round of negotiations. 

The University and TSSU met on June 4, at which time the parties exchanged and discussed their respective bargaining proposals. A further meeting was held on June 18, at which time the parties had previously agreed to spend the session on issues specific to the ELC/ITP program. 

The University and TSSU have agreed to take the summer off from bargaining and have tentatively agreed to meet again on August 26.

July 3, 2014

SFU Faculty and Librarians Approve Certification as a Union 
- this message was sent via email to SFU faculty and staff on May 15, 2014.

In May, members of the Faculty Association of Simon Fraser University voted to become a certified union under the BC Labour Relations Code. 

The results of the certification vote were as follows (the results are unofficial until confirmed by the Labour Relations Board):

Eligible voters: 1091
Votes cast: 800
Percentage turnout: 73%

The question voted upon was: “Do you want the Faculty Association of Simon Fraser University (SFUFA) to be recognized as a certified union, under the Labour Relations Code, to represent you in collective bargaining with your employer, the University?” 

Total ballots: 800
Spoiled ballots: 0
Valid ballots: 800
In favour: 590
Opposed: 210

As a result of the vote, the Administration and Faculty Association must now begin negotiation of the first collective agreement. 

The University Administration and Faculty Association respect the choice made by faculty members and librarians regarding their preferred form of representation. Both the Administration and the Association are committed to maintaining the positive working relationship we have enjoyed. 

Jonathan Driver 
Vice-President, Academic, Simon Fraser University 

Neil Abramson 
President, Faculty Association of SFU 

Contact Us

Email: labourupdate@sfu.ca

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