SFU-TSSU Labour Update: SFU/TSSU negotiations at an impasse – SFU takes additional steps to protect students
After over 16 months of bargaining and two failed attempts at mediation, including three days of intensive mediation with veteran mediator Vince Ready, the University and TSSU have made little progress toward negotiating a fair Collective Agreement. During this time the University has reached a tentative new Collective Agreement with CUPE, an award on salary and benefits with APSA, and has made significant progress toward negotiating a first Collective Agreement with the SFU Faculty Association.
In an effort to break the current impasse in our negotiations with the TSSU, the University has been encouraging the Union to participate in a Final Offer Selection Process (FOS), which would bring an immediate end to the current strike and provide a mechanism for a full and final resolution of all outstanding bargaining issues. This FOS process was proposed and recommended by mediator Vince Ready who determined that the parties were not likely to conclude a collective agreement without such a process being in place.
Additional detail surrounding the FOS process is contained in this earlier labour update. The Union has thus far declined to agree to the FOS process.
TSSU’s actions target students and community
The Union’s continued failure to accept this approach, which is designed to build on and respect the interests of each party and resolve the current strike, is disappointing and frustrating. After more than three months of TSSU strike action, the TSSU Union has not faced any negative consequences, but over 10,000 SFU students cannot receive their grades for work completed in the summer semester.
The TSSU’s decision to picket the University’s Applied Sciences building on September 8th disrupted the start of the school year for 360 new Applied Sciences students and led to the loss of wages for 19 CUPE staff who work in the building (even though no TSSU members were monetarily affected by this picket). We have summarized these impacts in an infographic below.
SFU makes a difficult but necessary and appropriate decision, in the interest of SFU students
The TSSU’s disruption cannot continue indefinitely, but their rejection of innovative proposals to reach agreement means that SFU students will continue to face disruption and uncertainty during the fall semester. As a result, after serious consideration, the University intends to place pressure squarely on the Union by requiring it to begin paying the cost of the benefits of its members. This is expressly provided for in the Labour Relations Code and is a standard practice when a Union goes out on strike. This is not a decision that the University takes lightly; however, we believe we have exhausted all possible efforts to encourage constructive negotiations at the bargaining table and through processes such as mediation and arbitration. We considered various approaches and believe that the most fair and effective first tactic is to target the Union directly in a way that will not impact SFU students.
The University is hopeful that this carefully targeted measure will give the Union a strong financial incentive to come to the bargaining table with the intention of concluding a fair collective agreement as quickly as possible. A new agreement is required to end the strike and to allow students to receive the grades for which they have worked so hard.
Today, the University notified the Union that effective October 31, 2015 the University will terminate the health and welfare benefits normally provided by the University to employees who are members of the TSSU. In accordance with Section 62 (1) of the Labour Relations Code, the University will continue the affected benefits if the Union agrees to assume all costs of benefits.