Sept. 26, 2023 — Nearly 1,600 teaching staff at Simon Fraser University are set to begin an indefinite work stoppage on Thursday, Sept. 28.
Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) members and their allies will begin rolling and escalating pickets of the university’s three campuses starting in Surrey on Sept. 28.
The TSSU is escalating its ongoing strike action in response to SFU’s refusal to offer a reasonable contract after 41 sessions of bargaining and 19 months without a collective agreement. As teaching assistants, sessional instructors, English language and culture teachers and other educational support workers, TSSU members provide at least half of the instruction that makes the university function every day.
“SFU’s administration is eroding the foundation of the university from underneath their own feet,” teaching assistant and School of Communication PhD candidate Dalton Kamish said. “The majority of our members are graduate students struggling to afford rent, groceries or medications. Without us, there is no SFU — but president Joy Johnson and the board of governors don’t seem to understand that.”
The university’s administration has failed to adequately respond to the union’s core demands:
Cost-of-Living Adjustment: As Metro Vancouver becomes an increasingly expensive place to live, TSSU members have been subjected to successive pay cuts in real wages. SFU’s latest proposals continue to lag behind inflation. The union is demanding real pay increases tied to inflation.
Stop Wage Theft: Every semester, TSSU members are expected to do more work for less pay. Class sizes, administrative duties, and expectations of student support have all ballooned while wages have stagnated. The union is calling for a compensation model that reflects their true workload.
A Better Future For Instructors: Hundreds of courses at SFU rely upon Instructors who must reapply for their jobs every term and who don't have access to pensions. Many of these instructors have worked at the university for decades and they deserve continuing jobs with a year-round commitment and a pension plan that allows them to plan for retirement.
Not only has SFU refused to accept that instructors deserve a living wage and a better future, its bargaining proposals have made clear the university wants to make their working conditions worse. The university has even refused to enshrine in a contract its ostensible commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and protections for survivors of workplace harassment.
“SFU wants to be known as a progressive university, but their refusal to commit to basic matters of human rights shows just how committed they really are to the lofty language they use in public statements,” said Jonas Eschenfelder, a TSSU member and earth sciences PhD candidate.