Welcome to the TSSU

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The Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) has been an independent, non-hierarchical feminist labour union since 1978.

We represent the Teaching Assistants, Tutor Markers, Sessionals, and the English Language & Culture/Interpretation & Translation Instructors (ELC/ITP) only here at Simon Fraser University. 

Our current Collective Agreement expires April 30th, 2014.

Please feel free to explore our website for more specific information.
Want to see all of the Main Page posts of a certain topic? Click on one of the links below (or at the bottom of any post).

Summary from the bargaining table

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 [1]:

  • 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.

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Footnote:
[1] TSSU’s full package of proposals is available to TSSU members at the Union Office on Burnaby campus (AQ 5129). Please contact tssu@tssu.ca for more details.

An Open Letter of Solidarity with the Palestinian people

July 24th, 2014

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[1].

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

Task Force for Flexible Education (TFFE)

Have you heard about the task force for flexible education (TFFE)? It could change everything about how you teach in the classroom.
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TSSU will be hosting our own focus groups – email tssu(at)tssu.ca to learn more.
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SFU has also set up focus groups you can sign up for: (https://websurvey.sfu.ca/cgi-bin/WebObjects/WebSurvey.woa/wa/survey?175896839) or give feedback directly on the site.
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Spread the word in your department that there’s an opportunity to put yourself in the process and be heard.

Fall Professional Development Opportunities

Did you know that all TAs & TMs have up to 6 hours of PAID professional development opportunities each semester you have a contract?

Pro D

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

Former SFU resident blames decline in health on mould

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: 

Former SFU resident blames decline in health on mould

June 30th, 2014 by | Photos By 

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.

WEB-Mould-Anderson-Wang-600x400

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.

Continue reading

RSVP Requested – Your Rights: Protesting & Civil Disobedience in BC Workshop

Civil Disobedience…

civil dis. easier than you think

… it’s easier than you think!

We have some great news:

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.

UPDATED MATERIAL: To download the guide provided at the workshop click here: Guide to the Law of Protests in BC (TSSU Workshop July 26-14)

Continue reading

Survivors’ Totem-Downtown Eastside Sacred Circle Society

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…

Survivors' Totem Pole

 

The Good, the Bad, and the Mouldy

Click HERE to See Original Article

Mould peak cover

Mould has been discovered throughout SFU’s Education Building — is it putting staff and students in danger?

May 20th, 2014 by | Photos By 

Every week, thousands of SFU students go to classes, office hours, and lectures in the Education Building, one of SFU’s oldest structures and the headquarters of several of its faculties. Beyond its reputation as one of the school’s more run down areas, the Education Building may be posing a significant health risk to students, as well as to faculty members and staff — many of whom remain unaware that any such issue even exists. Continue reading

Health and Safety Communication Breakdown at SFU

Read full article here: http://www.burnabynewsleader.com/news/257524611.html

Mould in West Mall Complex_SFU BBY

 

Mould in West Mall Complex (SFU Burnaby)

 

The Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) at Simon Fraser University is raising the alarm about toxic mould found in the Education Building on the Burnaby campus.

TSSU spokesperson Melissa Roth said while it appears the problem has existed for several years, the union is concerned that it was never informed of the issue or potential dangers until it started asking SFU’s administration about rumours it had heard.

The TSSU represents 3,500 staff at SFU, including sessional instructors and teaching assistants.

Roth said at a recent town hall meeting on the subject she heard a member of another campus union say they had been working in the building for 20 years and experienced symptoms for much of that time.

Part of the problem is that people often aren’t aware what the symptoms are of air quality issues related to mould, she said.

When TSSU members were surveyed, few knew about the mould issue or remediation work in the building.

“However, when I started saying the symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, flu-like symptoms that never get better or that are associated with the space, I can tell you right now there are five members that believe this has happened to them.”

Some have had to take time off work or take migraine medications “all because of spending time in specific rooms in that building.”

Roth noted a U.S. study found 29 per cent of adult-onset asthma is due to indoor air quality.

“Because of this communication issue, people don’t know that they are being [subjected] to these conditions. This is not just staff and workers, but students. There are classrooms still being used in that building. If you don’t know that you’re being [subjected] to this, we are concerned they won’t know to tell their doctor.”

Continue reading

Mould at SFU Media Release

April 28th, 2014

Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) members as well as other workers and students here at Simon Fraser University are being exposed to unsafe levels of toxic mould in the Education Building on the Burnaby campus. The Teaching Support Staff Union is conducting a mould awareness event on May 5th to pressure Simon Fraser University and the BC Liberal Government to comply with health and safety laws. This is being done in conjunction with April 28th, the National Day of Mourning for those that have been hurt and killed on the job.

Addressing the mould issue, Melissa Roth, the TSSU’s Organizer has stated, “Even though some of our members have reported adverse health effects from working in the Education Building during this time, the Union has not received any official communications in 1.5 years as to the extent of the problem.”

Ms. Roth further comments in reference to SFU’s poor communication on the issue, “We are disappointed but determined to solve this problem to ensure that our workers have a safe work environment in the future.”

TSSU represents over 2500 Sessional Instructors, Teaching Assistants, Tutor Markers and ELC/ITP Instructors. These teachers provide the majority of face to face instruction and grading at Simon Fraser University.

The collective agreement between SFU and TSSU expires on April 30th, 2014. TSSU remains concerned that SFU continues to refuse to communicate with TSSU over these health and safety issues.

For further information:

Melissa Roth
TSSU Organizer
organizer(at)tssu.ca