Fact: Did you know that Sessionals teach between 20%-25% of classes at SFU?

Sessional Instructors Have Rights!

TSSU achieved a new Collective Agreement in Nov 2012 and here is a brief synopsis of some rights of Sessional Instructor. To find out what we are bargaining for in our new Collective Agreement contact us and/or visit: bargaining.tssu.ca/our-proposals/tssu-proposals/sessional-instructors/


a)    You have BC medical plan coverage (for you and your family) fully paid by the Employer IF you put in an application (forms are available on the TSSU website). As long as the application is sent to Human Resources (Strand Hall) within a month, you are covered for that month. International students and those from out of province are eligible after three months of residency. You also have Extended Health benefits that cost you approximately $6 per month in payroll deduction.

b)    You have one month of paid sick leave per semester. You are not responsible to replace yourself. You simply call the department and advise them that you are sick.

c)    If you are a student you have the right to deduct your tuition from your payroll over the course of the semester, with no penalty as long as it is paid by your last paycheque.

d)    A Childcare bursary is available for Sessionals who are students with kids.



a)  You have the right to know what work is available. Check the central posting site (in process of being created) and your departmental website for positions. Postings must be up at least six weeks before the semester starts, for at least two weeks.  Sessional postings must include minimum and recommended qualifications.  If you have had a Sessional appointment in the last year for a course that is being offered, you will receive the posting by email.

b)  You have the right to know what position you have including the number of contact hours being offered, at least three weeks before the work commences;

c) Sessional rights to work.

I)    “Priority” is earned by teaching a course twice, one of which was in the last year.  This gives you some priority to teach it again.

ii)   ”Right of First Refusal” is earned by working three consecutive semesters or for five semesters in three years, and teaching the same course three times within nine semesters.  When you have earned this right, your department must email you to advise that you have.  Then your department must email you again, this time when they know the course is going to be taught by a Sessiona, but before they post the position.  You will have seven days from this SECOND email, to advise that you want to teach the course.  If you say yes, then the course does not have to be posted, and you are just given the course. This Right of First Refusal will apply to the next three times the course is offered.  Then you must re-earn the right all over again.

d)  If you are awarded a contract, look to see if it is “Conditional Upon Enrollment”.  If it is not, then it is a guaranteed contract and cannot be cancelled.



a)  Your department must provide you with a copy of your Collective Agreement.

b)  Within the scope of the limitations set by the department in advance, you have the right to present material and information in a manner you deem   appropriate, and to encourage critical judgment by students.

c)   If you are required to supervise TAs in your appointment, you have the right to be provided guidelines from the department as to how to carry out that duty properly.

d)  You have the right to a healthy and safe workplace that is free of harassment. You have the right to refuse unsafe work, in accordance with      BC Law (see Worksafe BC)

e)  You have the right to a fair evaluation. This means that you are told            the criteria by which you will be evaluated when you start working. Then the actual evaluation should be fair and balanced.



a)  You have the right to enforce your rights.  The Collective Agreement is a legal contract between the Union and the University.  Both parties agree to       comply by its terms.  From time to time, this requires discussion and        resolution of difference as a normal part of life.  That is the role of the             grievance procedure. If you have a problem at work, please contact TSSU.

b)  This is your Union.  We will only take action on your behalf with you, and with your agreement.

c)  Every department should have at least one shop steward and a bulletin board near the general office.  Check there for contact information. Consider becoming a Steward or a member of one of our committees.

This is your Union – and we are only as strong as our members are active. Union meetings are held three times a semester, approximately once per month.  Emails are sent by TSSU with information and reminders. If you do not receive our emails it is because SFU has not put you on the list. It is very important to call us or email (tssu@tssu.ca)to get on the list. We conduct many of our votes via email systems, so this is important.



a) The Teaching Learning Centre at SFU holds a variety of professional skill development which is open to all instructors at SFU (Sessionals and TAs included).  From Canvas to creating a course syllabus and other opportunities visit: http://www.sfu.ca/tlc/programming.html

b) The Teaching Learning Centre has created a new guide book for faculty and sessionals at SFU, it's a good place to start and refer back to throughout your work here: http://www.sfu.ca/content/dam/sfu/tlc/Documents/pdfs/faculty-guidebook-2014-web.pdf

grad sessional poster          Sessional Superhero

Above: Two posters from November 2014 created by our Member Mobilization Committee - for copies just contact mmc_commissioner(at)tssu.ca.

Help us translate this document to your preferred language, contact tssu (at) tssu.ca for more information. Compensation is available.

Since 1978

The Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU)