Bargaining updates, APSA, CUPE, POLYPARTY, SFUFA, TSSU

Collective bargaining and living wage updates, March 2023

March 29, 2023

Throughout 2023, SFU will be in active negotiation with each of the university’s employee groups. This is an important time as the university, employee groups and negotiators work together to address monetary proposals in alignment with the Public Sector mandate and non-monetary requests for each employee group. A central web page and regular updates on the status of bargaining with all employee groups is part of a commitment to be more transparent and provide better communication about the collective bargaining process for everyone at SFU.

Quick view: collective bargaining status

Employee group
APSA Negotiation of basic agreement will begin Fall 2023
CUPE Bargaining will begin May 29, 2023; initial meetings now being held to exchange background information
Poly Party
Bargaining is active; currently discussing non-monetary items with the intent to move to monetary in April
SFUFA Bargaining is active; comprehensive proposals have been exchanged
TSSU (renewal of existing Collective Bargaining Agreement) Bargaining is active; we met regularly with TSSU on mutually agreed dates from November 2022 through the end of February 2023. TSSU has currently cancelled all March bargaining dates and let us know they are embarking on a strike vote
TSSU (new CBA for Research Assistants) Bargaining began September 2022 and we have met on mutually agreed dates through mid-February 2023. The university's monetary proposal will be tabled once bargaining with TSSU resumes


On January 29, 2023 APSA issued notice under Article 13 of the Basic Agreement to renegotiate the Basic Agreement. The Basic Agreement sets out the operational relationship between the University and APSA, and outlines the procedures for the determination of compensation matters (collective bargaining) and administrative personnel polices (AD 10s). The university issued counter notice under Article 13.

Next, the parties will meet to discuss the impacts of the notice and how the two separate negotiations will proceed. The University has begun the preparation for the renegotiation of both the Basic Agreement and Collective Bargaining of compensation matters.


The University and CUPE have discussed timelines for bargaining. CUPE has requested to begin bargaining later in the spring and the University has agreed to a tentative start date of May 29, 2023. The University and CUPE will meet over the next two months to hold without prejudice conversations and consultations to inform the framework and approach to bargaining.

POLY Party

Formal bargaining has paused while PSEC reviews the Poly Party monetary proposal for approval. The proposal is supported by the university. In the meantime, the parties have engaged in off the record and without prejudice conversations to maintain progress on non-monetary proposals. We anticipate a response from PSEC by late March, allowing the return to formal bargaining by April.

This group has been waiting a long time for a renewed agreement and the university is pleased to be making this substantial progress.


Negotiations with SFUFA started in November 2022. The parties have exchanged near-comprehensive proposals, they have agreed to a number of items, but the bulk of bargaining on substantive matters lies ahead. Bargaining will continue through the spring.


There are two active streams of bargaining with TSSU: one for current members and one for the new RA agreement. For current members, groups are carefully working through 500 non-monetary proposals as well as the monetary proposal. The university has offered to meet weekly, and if unavoidable cancellations arise, reschedule the meeting to ensure time is provided to make progress. The groups met frequently through February and had eight dates scheduled for March. The university is costing its monetary proposal for Research Assistants and had aimed to table it in March.

However, TSSU has given the University notice of cancellation of March dates and notes it is embarking on organizing a strike vote.

Throughout Fall 2022, the University created a process for determining whether Research Assistants are in scholarship or employment relationship with SFU. Learn more about that process here. Since mutual agreement with the TSSU on the process was not possible, the University implemented a voluntary recognition agreement survey. The survey has been issued twice now, and the University reviews and validates each survey returned, converting any Research Assistant determined to be an employee to employment.

Living wage update

SFU is taking the appropriate steps to become a living wage employer. As a large institution with many different employee groups and stakeholders, this change will take time. In accordance with the guidance from Living Wages for Families BC, the living wage rate includes the value of employer-paid non-mandatory benefits. Through ongoing collective bargaining negotiations with our four unions and one association, the university will table proposals that identify and address living wage gaps where appropriate. Most SFU employees already earn a living wage.

SFU has been working with the Vancity Community Foundation (VCF) to clarify the process around certification as a Living Wage Employer. The VCF became responsible for the operation of the Living Wages for Families BC program in November 2022. Language pertaining to the living wage has been included in all major procurement processes since the Board motion was passed in June, in advance of certification.

The process will follow a phased approach as bargaining agreements and contracts are renewed over the next three years. However, SFU anticipates being certified as a Living Wage Employer and extending certain campus benefits (e.g., access to campus services and educational opportunities) to contracted service workers by the end of 2023.