Below are the candidate statements for the Fall 2019 Election Cycle. If you are a TSSU member, you will receive a voting token by email and will be able to cast your vote between November 4 and November 10. If you do not receive a voting token by November 4, please contact email@example.com
Chief Steward I – Katie Gravestock
My name is Katie Gravestock, and I am running for the position of Chief Steward I. I am a third year PhD Candidate in Geography. I have been an active TSSU member since 2017, and have served as a Steward in my Department, organizing collective sessions with graduate students in an effort to increase solidarity and knowledge about employment rights. I am also an organizer for the campaign to unionize Research Assistants at SFU. I have served as a member of the Grievance Committee since January 2018, and recently I have attended a handful of grievances with Lillian Deeb (Chief Steward II) at the Informal, Step I, and Step II stages where I have begun to learn more about the grievance procedure and how to effectively advocate for the rights of our members.
In February 2019, I was elected to the Contract Committee where I have attended bargaining sessions and worked with the Committee to achieve improvements in our working conditions. As our union is currently bargaining, it is imperative that Chief Steward I is proactive, knowledgeable in the language of the collective agreement, and committed to the founding principles of our union as non-hierarchical, directly democratic, and feminist. I am confident that my experiences as a Steward in my own department and my involvement with the Grievance and Contract Committee will provide a solid foundation for me to take on the role of Chief Steward I. I would be a strong advocate for our members, and I would work efficiently as the chief bargainer in negotiations together with Derek Sahota (our Advocate).
I would like to serve as Chief Steward I for two main reasons. First, my academic training and research interests are aligned with this position. I have a diploma in Conflict Resolution, a BA in Political Science with a minor in Labour Studies, and my current research focuses on precarious retail workers and gentrification in Vancouver. Second, through working in various teaching positions at SFU (as a TA, TM, and Course Supervisor), I have experienced the power imbalance between employers and employees firsthand. As Chief Steward I, I would advocate for more effective measures to address this power imbalance and to strengthen our union by building worker power and finding new and creative ways to utilize the Stewards network.
I would love the opportunity to continue the work Scott Yano (Chief Steward I) has begun, and to work with Lillian and Derek to ensure that we renegotiate a fair Collective Agreement for our members. Your vote would allow me to take a more active role in our union – to continue to fight for the issues our members have identified.
Chief Steward I – Jorji Temple
I’m Jorji, and I am asking to serve as TSSU’s next Chief Steward I.
When I came to SFU in 2014, I’d never been in a union. I left a job making $80 per day teaching high school in Mississippi, and arrived here to find myself earning a living wage with medical insurance for the first time in my life. At the time, TSSU was actively fighting to improve the situation of international students by pushing SFU Administration to provide better insurance when we arrive. That campaign was a success: it led to thousands of dollars in refunds to students, and, eventually, a better version of guard.me (the private insurance policy we’re required to have in the first three months living here). Noticing people working together to change their situation, rather than accepting it, exploded my understanding of how the world works. TSSU had a vacancy on the Contract Committee, so I joined.
My spot on the contract committee turned out to be several jobs bundled together. As a writer and editor, I’ve helped produce union press releases, pamphlets, and web content for union campaigns; as a spokesperson for the union I’ve talked to faculty and media about our struggles; and, as a mobilizer, I’ve helped bring members together to show our collective power. Working with the internal relations committee, I helped re-organize our bylaws, and as secretary I kept records of union meetings. These different roles taught me about TSSU, our history, and the political, legal, and social contexts that we’re in; but more than that they taught me the importance of collective decision-making, and the value of solidarity. I’m grateful for the time I’ve worked with TSSU, and hope to continue as your Chief Steward.
Chief Steward I – Alicia Massie
I’m Alli, your former/current Coordinator, and I am now running for the Chief Steward I position. I’ve been a TSSU member for 4 years now and have been a member of the Executive for the past two years. Being an active member with the TSSU has been a truly amazing experience — it has changed so many aspects of my life (including my PhD research). I was really excited to think about being able to run for the Chief Steward I role, as this would be such a meaningful way to contribute to our union and continue to fight for the things I’m passionate about.
Last year, through learning the Coordinator position, I’ve come to a much deeper understanding of what the day-to-day work of TSSU looks like. I’ve chaired each of the Internal Relations, Finance, and Anti-Harassment committees, as well as serving on SSJC, MMC, and of course the Grievance Committee. I’m fortunate to work with a fantastic team, and have been able to learn all the different aspects of what it means to represent and advocate for members. This past summer, I unionized my Graduate Facilitator colleagues at the Student Learning Commons, and it was a huge learning experience. I lead the campaign through organizing, certification, and now bargaining. Drafting the first contract proposal, meeting my colleagues to ask their opinions, and running it all back to Contract Committee and the bargaining table has really helped prepare me for the Chief Steward I role.
I’ve been serving on Contract Committee in different positions for almost 2 years now, and as the former Chair of the TSSU, I think I am well positioned to be able to lead the committee into an inevitably tough few months of bargaining. I am very familiar with our proposals, as well as our organizing campaigns, and would be excited to work towards gaining ground for our members. I’ve been lucky enough to work with Scott, the outgoing Chief Steward I, and Lillian, the current Chief Steward II, for years now, so I can really learn from their excellent work, and would look forward to having some dedicated time to have them train me.
I’ve also been active for almost a year (how time flies!) in the Softball campaign, and would be absolutely thrilled to be able to help take that through the final stages and look to next steps. Putting together surveys, member consultations, and going through the first contract negotiations will be a unique experience that I would love to be a part of. As a frustrated former RA, I deeply respect the organizing work of all the members of the campaign, and can’t wait to see everyone succeed. Helping bring together all the different visions into a coherent contract to protect and lift up RAs couldn’t be a more satisfying conclusion. TSSU is an inspirational union, we’ve been fighting for our rights for 40 years now – I want to continue this legacy not only through this round of bargaining, but also through winning fairness, decency, and respect for all RAs.
Thank you for your consideration and taking the time to read this.
MMC Commissioner – Ladan Fathi
Dear TSSU members,
I am Ladan Fathi and I am running for the position of Member Mobilization Committee (MMC) commissioner. I became involved with TSSU from 2017 when I joined the MMC and started playing an active role in many. I continued my engagement by becoming the MMC commissioner from April 2019 until now. The reason that I joined MMC was that I believe unions help to create workplace democracy with regulating standards that eventually benefit the workers, service receivers, and even the employees. I contend that MMC plays an important role in fulfilling the TSSU’s purposes since it has a direct connection with the members. I think this is not only a place to be involved in the community, but also a friendly environment for professional development, learning new things, and having new experiences. As my work as the MMC commissioner, I fulfilled some of my plans including reviving the MMC with having regular meetings and workdays. I made a strong connection with our organizer and recruited new active members. I tried to keep the environment of MMC friendly and more inviting to attract new members; a place where everyone’s opinion is heard and appreciated as it should be. I brought up ideas to make our General Membership (GM) meetings more inviting for new members who are not familiar with the wording and process of the GM. Considering all the challenges and important processes like bargaining that are happening this year, it is more important that MMC act stronger and in its most organized way. As a result, If I become elected again as the MMC commissioner my focus will be on:
- Recruiting new active MMC members
- Establishing a stronger connection with other committees like contract committee to facilitate the communication between different parts of the union
- Finding the best practices to inform more members about the process of bargaining and encouraging them to become involved.
- Building a stronger relationship with the GSS to facilitate reaching and informing our members
It would be an honor for me to work closely with the executive members and other committees as the commissioner and I devote all my effort, skill, and attention to help the union.
Trustee I – Chantelle Spicer
My name is Chantelle Spicer and I am a first-year Master’s student in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology. I come from a background of student politics, where I was a dedicated member of governance for 4 years through the position of Chair and Women’s Representative. Through my work with the union, I regularly reviewed and updated policies of the organisation, including strengthening policies on inclusion and support of students marginalised by the education system and traditional union organising. This experience has given me an in-depth understanding of internal functions, bylaws, and budgets of a BC non-profit society. I view this work as foundational to organisations like TSSU being able to successfully mobilize members and achieve their goals. My organising beliefs and practices lie in intersectional, socialist feminism.
Trustee I – Kari Gustafson
Before I introduce myself, I’d like to acknowledge that as a Trustee for TSSU, I will have the privilege of serving on traditional and unsurrendered lands of the Coast Salish, including the Tsleil-Waututh (səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ), Kwikwetlem (kʷikʷəƛ̓əm), Squamish (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw) and Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm) Nations, as well as territories of the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem (kʷikʷəƛ̓əm), Kwantlen, Qayqayt and Tsawwassen First Nations.
I am ready to put my grassroots political and advocacy experience to work for graduate students at SFU!
Off and on for over twenty years, I have been involved in grassroots political work. As a family member of a person with a developmental disability, I also have quite a bit of experience with disability advocacy. I served on the board of Autism Denmark for seven years, and on the advisory council for the Copenhagen Center for Disability for three of those years. Increasing accessibility is a very important political and research goal for me, which I would also bring to my work with TSSU.
As a full-time PhD student in the Faculty of Education, I have worked as an RA, a TA and a TM, giving me insight into the different challenges that can be faced by graduate student workers at SFU. I am also an international student and a single parent, and I understand what it is like to coordinate a complicated life and make ends meet.
I grew up in a log cabin in Alaska, then moved to Denmark for several years before coming to SFU to work on my PhD two years ago. I love living in the Lower Mainland, which combines the best of those worlds! When I’m not trying to get my PhD work done, I can often be found hiking, sneaking time to read a good novel or playing D&D with my kids.
Coordinator – Lea Hogan
Lea Hogan (they/them/their) is an MA student in the School for Contemporary Arts, a Teaching Assistant in Contemporary Arts and School for Communication, and a Committee Member on the Contract Committee, Anti-Harassment Committee, and Solidarity and Social Justice Committee. Lea has contributed to two student unions during their undergrad at the University of Waterloo; becoming Vice President for the Theatre Student Union and Co-President of the Speech Communication Society, both in the Communication Arts program. Lea emphasized creating a united student body to fight for our education and create a welcoming atmosphere for connection. Additionally, Lea has worked as a stage manager for multiple theatre companies in Ontario; a role dedicated to ensuring effective communication of all departments, running rehearsals on schedule with notes taken, arranging schedules for rehearsals, and following Equity Union rules, even when not under union contracts, for best practices. Lea hopes to take their experience in their previous endeavours to help co-ordinate with TSSU, ensuring effective communication and organization is maintained within TSSU’s operations.
Coordinator – Maria Cristina Lima
My name is Maria Cristina Lima de Albuquerque… actually, I probably have the longest name of this university so just call me Maria. The reason why my name is so long is because I am from Brazil, and as an international student I would love to increase the international student’s representation in the Executive Committee as the coordinator of TSSU. I am a master student in Education and this is my second year at SFU and I work as a TM since January 2019. The latter has provided me the opportunity to participate in the TSSU meetings making me feel empowered of my rights, represented and more connected to the university and, of course, students.
Today, I am a steward of Education department and I am pursuing the coordinator position to be even more involved with TSSU’s goals and its members. As an active and energetic member I would contribute to planning a fair and exciting agenda, where we could effectively discuss and share common needed ideas and upcoming events. I would ensure to be a clear and attentive communicator to work as a bridge in between the TSSU organizations and members, on and off campus as well as in the media!
I would welcome the opportunity to extend my service to the Union as a Coordinator as I will be finished with my course work and have more time to dedicate to you all. Specifically, I would bring my aptitude for organization, efficiency, straight forwardness, and commitment to bettering the future of our Union. Also, I would contribute with my energy, patience and openness to learn and to implement anything that needs to be done.
Thank for your consideration and feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding my candidacy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OH & S Commissioner – Natalia Perez
After several years acting as a TSSU steward and a member of the Solidarity and Social Justice Committee, I would like to serve as the next OH&S Commissioner because I see this position as key to protect not only the health and safety of union members, but also those of the multiple communities that compose the university, as aligned with TSSU values. I think my familiarity with important work that TSSU does and my commitment to maintain open communication will help me to represent well our union in this position and to bring awareness about the decisions being made at Central OH&S committee of the university among all TSSU members.