This page details selected past victories with our grievances, and also outlines current grievances.
What are you being paid?
SFU’s current payroll system does not comply with the Employment Standards Act, and TSSU has grieved to force the system to be improved. The act requires that workers can tell what they are being paid. In many cases SFU’s system lumps pay from many different positions into one category called “Regular.” This “Regular” category can include: TA pay, Sessional Instructor pay, Research Assistant pay, etc. Workers cannot figure out what they’re being paid, and along with several other problems, this violates the Employment Standards Act.
Working two jobs
The Employer insists that workers cannot work concurrently in two bargaining units, resulting in a denial of Sessional work to SIs and TA work to graduate students. Workers can work multiple jobs, up to and including full-time hours; TSSU has grieved to require the Employer to recognize this fact and to compensate those individuals who were denied work previously.
Selected Past Victories
Underpaying Teaching Assistants by improperly calculating base units
The Mechatronics Systems Engineering department at SFU Surrey compensated TAs with as few as 2.17 BUs for work that would have been 5.17 BUs or more in any other department (e.g. 8 hours in a closed lab per week). TSSU went to arbitration with mixed results: Mechatronics was found to owe substantial back-pay, while other departments were found to be within the Collective Agreement. As a result, around $100,000 should be distributed to TAs in Mechatronics, and the department’s future practice must change. TSSU will also be going to the bargaining table to further defend the TA/TM pay system.
- In October 2012, SFU started imposing a mandatory, temporary health insurance plan (guard.me) for all international students that doubles up on their extended plans (ihaveaplan)
- TSSU opposed this imposition for several reasons:
- it is nearly twice as expensive as similar plans and contains far more than the ‘basic emergency care’ it is intended to provide
- the opt-out process is incredibly difficult
- students are automatically re-enrolled in guard.me unless they specifically opt-out
- it violates our CA language
- members are not being informed of this fee which is directly affecting their finances
- since guard.me is a temporary plan, it will not allow a member to opt-out of the GSS extended medical care (ihaveaplan)
The Employer finally caved and settled on the steps of the arbitration hearing in late 2016. Members who were enrolled in the plan were reimbursed in excess of $120,000. In addition, future members are reimbursed a pro-rated amount for each month they are in the plan. For more details see our benefits and leaves page.
April 2016 – ELC Vacation Pay
For the 2nd time, TSSU and the Employer have come to a settlement that ensures instructors in the ELC program are correctly paid the 6% vacation pay they are owed after years of employment. In the future these instructors will receive their vacation pay correctly and those instructors who have been shorted in the past will be fully compensated. This settlement arose when SFU Administration failed to properly implement a previous settlement, where they agreed to comply with the law. This was another instance of TSSU spending years fighting SFU’s Administration to ensure compliance with the Employment Standards Act.
March 2016 – Wage Theft
After several years of effort, the TSSU and SFU reached a settlement on the issue of wage theft and SFU’s lack of compliance with the Employment Standards Act. As part of the settlement, SFU has agreed to comply with the Employment Standards Act and compensate those people who have suffered losses due to wage theft.
What does this mean to you? Among other things the Employer will:
- Stop illegally deducting from your paycheque
- Compensate people for losses they incur if they are illegally deducted
- Ensure you are paid fully on the first pay cheque of the semester and quickly prepare you a manual cheque if they miss the electronic payment
- Fix the myinfo.sfu.ca payroll system
If you notice any irregularities on your paycheque, consult the wage theft section of the TSSU site here.
March 2016 – Your Right to Strike
TSSU and SFU’s Administration have come to an agreement that, when strike notice is served in any future round of bargaining, the Employer will send an email to all department heads and chairs informing them of TSSU members’ legal right to perform collective job action, and send a copy of that email to the union. This broad dissemination of your rights under the BC Labour Code will allow the union to better protect the membership from coercion and intimidation. If you experience coercive or intimidating behaviour, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
January 2016 – Childcare
Just one week ahead of a scheduled arbitration hearing, TSSU and SFU Administration came to a settlement agreement over the grievance filed in 2014 regarding the disbursement of funds from the TSSU Member Child Care Fund.
As a result of this settlement, SFU Administration has deposited an additional $310,000 into the Childcare Bursary fund to be disbursed to members with childcare costs. We are confident that this settlement, combined with the recently signed-off TSSU control over the terms of reference for the TSSU Member Child Care Fund, will start getting money into the hands of parents and allow the bursary to fulfill the purpose for which it was created. However, these terms or reference will not be in full force and effect until we have our arbitration decision that finalizes our new Collective Agreement.
2014 – Copies of the Collective Agreement
TSSU brought forward a grievance on the failure of departments to provide Collective Agreements to members, as required by the language in Article VII.B. The Arbitrator agreed that Collective Agreements must be provided by those departments. The following are excerpts from those decisions and links to the decisions in full.
“Moreover, the Article does not support exclusive reliance on electronic copies. Article VII.B establishes an obligation for the University….While I conclude that the University administration did not violate Article VII.B, the evidence before me leads to the conclusion that three departments violated the Agreement by the manner in which they distributed copies of the Agreement ….For these reasons, the grievance succeeds in part, i.e., that three departments for which evidence was available violated Article VII.B….The remedy the Union sought was to instruct the Employer to ensure that the provisions of Article VII.B were implemented. This is appropriate in this case.”
“Basically the Union’s complaint is that the Arbitrator erred in making a distinction between the University departments and the University administration because they “are not legally distinct”….The Award distinguishes between those specific actions which were not in breach of the Collective Agreement, as opposed to those actions which were in breach of the Collective Agreement. Thus, the Arbitrator allowed the grievance “in part, ie., that three departments for which evidence was available violated Article VII.B” (Award p.24, emphasis added)….This determination in connection with remedy….draws an appropriate distinction for future guidance between the departments which breached the Collective Agreement and the University institution as whole which will need to monitor the departments. The fact that the University is expected to monitor the departments also confirms that the University continues to be “responsible for the actions taken in the name of management.” (Award, p.24).”
Thus TSSU did not succeed in the Labour Board challenge of the Arbitration decision because we had already won the grievance in part, the employer was instructed to monitor departments to ensure compliance with the CA, and the Board found that the decision did not really draw a full distinction between the University and its Departments.