Why TSSU voted to go on Strike?

It has been nearly a year since the TSSU/SFU Collective Agreement expired on April 30, 2022 and over 3 years since the RA Voluntary Recognition Agreement was signed. For RAs, who were supposed to be included into the 2019-22 Collective Agreement, we’ve had 16 bargaining sessions, several “off the record” negotiation sessions, and two attempts at mediation. For the renewal of the 2019-2022 Collective Agreement, we’ve had 18 bargaining sessions. At these sessions, TSSU has time and again put forward proposals to address our members’ needs, and the response from the Employer has been to say no outright, to keep delaying, or to claim improvements would have to be offset with monetary concessions.

Many of our proposals are not new and represent solutions to problems that we’ve been facing for over a decade. In many cases, TSSU and SFU had productive conversations in 2019–20 towards solutions to these issues under the previous Senior Administration. Those conversations were cut short by the pandemic, and now we’ve seen very different behaviour at the bargaining table.

The Employer has proposed numerous concessions, including:

  1. Effectively eliminating Sessional Seniority and the earned right of Sessional Instructors to a temporary promotion as a Limited Term Lecturer at a higher rate of pay and with longer duration and more benefits;
  2. removing guarantees of TA priority by allowing Departments to vary how many, if any, base units they must provide to graduate student TAs before moving on to those with lower priority; and
  3. extending the ELC/ITP/ITA Instructor probation period from the existing 4 months to one that could last several years.
  4. demanding the ability to fire RAs at any time for any reason with minimal amount of severance, which violates the Labour Code;
  5. still demanding sick leave rights for RAs lesser than required in the Employment Standards Act

In response to these concessions and the Employer’s unwillingness to bargain meaningfully on TSSU’s proposals, the membership voted with a 94% mandate to go on Strike.