Union accuses SFU in Burnaby of gouging international students

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

Fall 2014 Semester Checklist

It’s that time of year again when deadlines quickly approach!

Fall 14 GM poster
Below is a list that has everything in one place, and for easy google calendar of meetings check our calendar at: tssu.ca/calendar/

This Friday is TA/TM Day FREE or up to 6 hours PAID Professional Development day on BBY campus for members. Schedule: sfu.ca/tlc.html

Afterwards all GSS & TSSU Members are invited to our joint social at 4:30pm-9pm at Highland Pub for free burgers/salad, and $2 GIB/Crooked Creek beers! It’s always lots of fun so feel free to bring your fellow members or meet new ones there.

  • Don’t forget to turn in your logbook 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.

For more information on benefits and how to read your forms, visit: tssu.ca/resources/

Guard.me: ‘Grievance filed over exorbitant University private health care plan’

Vancouver, BC, Canada / (CKNW AM) AM980
August 27, 2014 09:38 pm
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.”

An arbitration hearing is set for December.


For more information about Guard.me and other insurance plans, click here.

Contact us with questions or to get involved here.

Fall 2014 TSSU & GSS Social!

Are you a TSSU member and/or a GSS member?
You’re invited to the best fall semester kick-off bash!

Hope to see you and your friends there!

TATM day Fall 2014 PDF Poster

As always FREE beef/veggie burgers, FREE salad, & $2 Crooked Creek/GIB beers!

A great way to meet and socialize with new department members and meet people from other departments across SFU!

Immediately after TA/TM Day, but everyone is welcome
(even if you don’t go to the TA/TM Day)

(Gluten free drink option available this year for $3, simply ask the ticket seller)

To volunteer for an hour shift, contact organizer(at)tssu.ca. 


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

Canadian International Institute for Extractive Industries and Development (CIIEID)

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.

2013 UBC Findings

TSSU’s Social Justice Committee is joining the SFU Accountability and Transparency in Public Education group to spread the word and demand the university explain what is going on to community members. (Accountability & Transparency at SFU Group’s Facebook Page Here)
Our school’s reputation and potentially our tuition being spent to increase human rights violations and increase private mining profits is in question. 
Click here for more information and how to contact us….  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

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