Welcome to the TSSU


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).

Are you an International Student? We have a question about MSP

Contact us if this has happened to you

After being enrolled in free MSP coverage (group enrollment) through SFU as a TSSU member, have you ever found that you no longer had any MSP coverage in later semesters (aka your card didn’t work)?

Please get in contact with the TSSU office ASAP if you answered yes.

We are finding that international students are finding that their MSP coverage is no longer in effect when attempting to visit the doctor after ceasing to be a TA or TM, even though they still have a valid visa.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.

FALL Professional Development (Paid!)

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. 


August 27 – Registration deadline for Surrey TA Orientation
September 22 – Application deadline for Fall 2014 EdMedia Protege Program
October 10 – Proposal submission deadline for 20th Annual Spring TA/TM Day
October 17 – Application deadline for December ISW (Vancouver)
October 20 – Application deadline for Spring 2015 Certificate Program in University Teaching and Learning


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

Support “Hello to Go” Transit Campaign!

Vancouver is pretty…. pretty expensive.


Hospitality workers all over Vancouver are uniting in a campaign to achieve a transit pass similar to our “Upass” for university students. Let’s help them!

Click here for a YouTube video on the campaign

Sign the Petition: HelloToGo.org

Spread the word on facebook by liking UniteHere 40′s page and sharing their posts, or send us an email and we can get you in contact with the people collecting signatures every Friday!

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.

[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.
TSSU will be hosting our own focus groups – email tssu(at)tssu.ca to learn more.
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.
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.


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


Solidarity Letter with BC Teachers

 Click here for Official PDF Letter of Solidarity

To the members of the BCTF,

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.

In Solidarity,

Melissa Roth
TSSU Organizer
On behalf of the TSSU General Membership

Continue reading

An Open Letter of Solidarity with the Unist’ot’en Camp and Indigenous Sovereignty

View official letter of solidarity here

May 27th, 2014

The TSSU reaffirms its support of the Unist’ot’en resistance camp and movements fighting for indigenous sovereignty against encroachments by extractive industries and the Canadian state.

In December 2013, Canada’s National Energy Board conditionally approved Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project. If completed, the pipeline would carry crude oil from Alberta’s tar-sands across British Columbia to tankers on the Pacific coast. “Enbridge’s victory” in front of the National Energy Board, as one Alberta MP put it, coincides with the establishment of a political framework for pipeline development between the provincial governments of Alberta and B.C. Nominal opposition from B.C.’s incumbent Liberal government during the 2013 election cycle gave way in November to political consensus between the Liberals and Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives.

To the TSSU, opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline and political consensus appear part of an emerging cycle of struggles against extractive industries and the Canadian state. For the better part of 2013, activists opposed to shale gas fracking and seismic exploration in New Brunswick confronted American firm Southwestern Energy (SWN) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in mobilizations to halt SWN’s explorations within unceded Mi’kmaq land. Against SWN trucks and RCMP containment strategies, solidarities began to take shape amongst those exposed to the extractive sector of capital. These lines of solidarity manifested concretely in active resistance and blockade—encampments, roadblocks, confrontation. Around the country, December 2nd, 2013 became a day of action in support of Elsipogtog, with protests in Victoria, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal. In Vancouver, activists expressed solidarity by blocking the federal port. Although its motivations for doing so remain unclear, in December 2013 SWN announced it would cease shale-gas exploration until 2015.  Continue reading

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