Union accuses SFU of gouging international students
International students at Simon Fraser University are being gouged on their health insurance premiums, says the Teaching Support Staff Union.
Derek Sahota, of the TSSU, says international students at SFU are paying, on average, more than double for their health insurance than students at other post secondary institutions in the province like the University of British Columbia, Kwantlen Polytechnical University and the University of Victoria.
In the fall of 2013, there were more than 4,000 international students enrolled at SFU, representing about 16 per cent of the school’s total student population.
Sahota says the $353 international students pay for health insurance provided by Guard.me is almost triple the cost of the university’s previous health insurance provider, which charged $126 per student.
“We have clear evidence of a public institution who forced their students into the most expensive option when students would have chose a different option,” says Sahota. Continue reading →
Don’t forget to turn in yourlogbook lotto sheet by the first GM for two chances to win $125!
Remember to fill out your Time Use Guideline (TUG) Sheet with your professor sometime in the first two weeks of semester (Page 69 or 74 of our Collective Agreement) & record your hours with our logbook! It makes your life and your professors life easier by getting both of you on the same page.
The Teaching Support Staff Union at Simon Fraser University has filed a grievance with the post secondary school claiming international students are getting gouged by its private health insurance provider.“This is causing international students to pay two or three times what international students are paying at other comparable Universities and we don’t think that’s right.”
Derek Sahota says international students, including some of its members, are automatically enrolled in the expensive health plan at 353 dollars for four months– compared to around 150 bucks at other Universities.
Sahota thinks SFU picked the provider for the financial incentive.
“SFU is receiving 5% back from the provider, and we noticed in the other bids, some of which are much more affordable, do not include a financial incentive.”
Sahota says it’s tough to opt-out.
“We have filed a grievance with SFU and we will go to an arbitration hearing in December, we hope to resolve it at that point, but we always rather resolve it my settling beforehand, so we need SFU to look at what has gone wrong and come up with a new solution.”
We are finding that international students are finding that their MSP coverage is no longer in effect when attempting to visit the doctor after ceasing to be a TA or TM, even though they still have a valid visa. We can help you through the process of getting your card working again. This could be happening to domestic students as well although we haven’t seen any cases yet.
No one should ever be worried that they don’t have health coverage.
Did you know that every TA and TM get SIX HOURS of paid professional development every contract? TA TM Day and any TLC workshop counts for that time!
All you need to do is put “6″ (hours) on the “Other” line in your Time Use Guidelines (TUG) when you fill it out with your professor. More details on this SFU benefit on page 54 & 55 in your GREEN collective agreement.
Wednesdays, August 27, September 3, 10, 17 | 12:30–1:30 p.m. | Burnaby campus, Surrey campus, Vancouver campus
Bring your laptop and questions and learn more about Canvas, SFU’s learning management system. Find out how to create a course shell, how to use basic Canvas tools, and more. For details and to register >>
Things are getting busy in the office as school will start in less than three weeks…
We’ve been scheduling all of our departmental orientations recently, and have also been kindly invited to many departmental socials, and other similar September events.
If you’d like one of our reps at a particular event, don’t hesitate to contact our Organizer at organizer(at)tssu.ca. We are excited to help welcome all new employees and students, plus reconnect with returning members of our community.
(Topics vary by situation but frequently include how to get benefits, resources available to employees, stipended and paid positions available, rights and responsibilities, and where to learn more. Let us know if you have anything in particular in mind.)
Types of events we have been invited to in the past:
New student orientations
TA/TM employee orientations
Sessional employee orientations
Faculty meetings to answer questions on rights and responsibility in a TA/faculty relationship and updates in bargaining (e.g. what is a workload review, how to complete an evaluation, etc) Continue reading →
Have you heard of the new mining institute that SFU and UBC is involved in?
Well it just came out that SFU will provide the Institute with $4.15 million of ‘in-kind’ contributions over five years.
In addition, when the Canadian government has gotten involvement in natural resource governance overseas, there has been a track record of privileging investment and profitability over reducing poverty and protecting communities, workers, and the environment.
TSSU and SFU have met three times since expiry of the collective agreement on April 30, 2014. Prior to discussing contract language, both sides expressed a desire to avoid repeating the 29 month bargaining process of last round, and agreed that negotiations work better when discussing actual proposal language. By signing the protocol agreement, both sides committed to bring a full set of proposals to our next meeting.
At the next meeting on June 4, 2014, SFU came with no proposals. TSSU presented a full package of non-monetary proposal language and a summary of our monetary package.
The TSSU is fighting to :
improve job security for sessional instructors through a seniority system, to value their teaching experience while ensuring a portion of sessional positions for graduate students
build a ladder between sessional instructor positions and permanent teaching positions,
ensure ELC/ITP instructors at Harbour Centre get benefits and working conditions comparable with those of their administrative support staff colleagues,
revise the TA/TM language to get ahead of the ongoing merging and changing nature of the two jobs, and to address systemic workload issues in TA and TM contracts
assure graduate students have priority access to TA work,
fix the childcare bursary/fund so that money gets into the hands of parents,
propose reasonable wage increases to keep up with the rising cost of living, along with benefit improvements.
TSSU met with SFU again on June 18, 2014. SFU presented no proposals, except, reluctantly, the change of a single number in the ELC/ITP language. Besides that proposal, to date, SFU has only discussed its general list of items, for example: “review and revise the categories of Teaching Assistants.” Items such as these do not constitute proposals, nor do they define the issues SFU wishes to address or outline their implications for our members. TSSU expects SFU will fulfil its obligation to produce proposal language at our next meeting on August 26, 2014, and remains committed to following the agreed bargaining protocol.
For our part, TSSU will continue to pursue productive bargaining with SFU to build a fair collective agreement for our members.
 TSSU’s full package of proposals is available to TSSU members at the Union Office on Burnaby campus (AQ 5129). Please contact email@example.com for more details.
The TSSU affirms its solidarity with the Palestinian people. We condemn the recent aerial bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza by the Israeli military, and we call upon Israel to end its rocket fire and colonial occupation of all Palestinian territories. We join with Palestinian academics and anti-occupation activists in calling for an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza, an ongoing act of war, as a condition of ceasefire.
The invasion of Gaza and the preceding air strikes breach the laws of war. As Human Rights Watch notes in their July 16th, 2014 report, “Israel/Palestine: Unlawful Israeli Airstrikes Kill Civilians”, the aerial salvoes—the bombing of homes, hospitals, and universities in Gaza—unlawfully target civilian structures, according to international humanitarian law. Likewise, the civilian population in Gaza has suffered disproportionately. The United Nations cites civilians as the majority of those killed; among those killed pre-invasion, as many as 77% of the dead were civilians. Continue reading →
Did you know that all TAs & TMs have up to 6 hours of PAID professional development opportunities each semester you have a contract?
Anything that is related to teaching counts, however many members choose to use their hours taking the excellent offerings of the Teaching Learning Centre (TLC) at SFU.
Fall professional development is available in multiple formats and modes, here is a preliminary list:
Intense and practical: Instructional Skills Workshops (ISWs) are an excellent way to enhance your teaching practice in a fast-paced, concentrated three-day format. The August 20–22 session still has space. Reserve your spot.
Technology in Surrey: The fall 2014 Teaching with Technology series at the Surrey campus will include five events on teaching topics ranging from how to perform on camera to using visual resources. The kick-off takes place on September 24. Sign up for the kick-off.
Educational Goals symposium: If your department is preparing for an external review, consider attending “Educational Goals Planning and Assessment: Exploring Challenges and Opportunities” on August 20. This one-day symposium will include Continue reading →
The latest instillation of our MOULD at SFU campaign was found in the student newspaper this week. Remember as a worker you have more rights than a resident. If you ever suspect your work environment is unsafe (air quality included) 1) remove yourself from the environment 2) tell your supervisor and your union of your suspicions so the space can be investigated and remedied:
A former SFU graduate student is still searching for answers after finding the presence of potentially toxic mould spores in his suite in Hamilton Hall in 2007.
George Kaufmann, who was recovering from lung cancer surgery when attending SFU, told The Peak that his health sharply declined over the course of his residency, during which he developed a “weeping body rash” and “difficulties in breathing,” according to a document he later filed under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act in 2009.
One of BC’s premier labour & civil rights lawyers, Leo McGrady, has agreed to put on a free workshop/seminar detailing your rights in a protest and the laws around civil disobedience. He has been doing these workshops for over a decade, recently traveling by request to a series of First Nation and northern BC communities in the path of Enbridge pipelines.
Spots are limited – however feel free to invite others to RSVP – this will be open to the public.
Downtown Eastside Sacred Circle Society is one of the organizations that the TSSU General Membership voted unanimously to donate money to in 2013. The money was donated to the organization for the creation of their Survivors’ Totem Pole. And, now the Sacred Circle Society would like to invite the TSSU membership to the raising of this Totem Pole…
We, the members of the Teaching Staff Support Union (TSSU) at Simon Fraser University, stand in solidarity with the teachers of British Columbia.
As fellow education workers in this province we join you in the struggle for a vibrant public education system and for fair working conditions for its workers. One year ago, our members also engaged in job action as an act of resistance against underfunding and undervaluing of our work as teachers.
The ongoing conduct of the provincical government in underfunding public education, denying workers the right to negotiate, and refusing to negotiate in good faith is unacceptable.
We appreciate the difficult decision you have made in standing up for students and for a fair deal, and we support you.
On behalf of the TSSU General Membership