As individual workers, we have very little power to defend ourselves in our workplaces. Employers can ignore us, blame us or even fire us because they are speaking out. Union training allows workers to fight for respect, fairness and dignity in our workplaces without fear of unjustified lawsuits or dismissals by employers. How do unions do it? For the Union, part of it means having competent representatives who support you. Our representatives help ensure that the rules are respected fairly and consistently between departments – that they respect laws and collective agreements. Union employees work to represent you in any work situation, if you wish or need it. If you are an assistant instructor (TA), Tutor Marker (TM), Research Assistant (RA), Sessional Instructor, Graduate Facilitator in the Student Learning Commons or English Language and Culture Instructor or An interpreter for interpretation and translation programs, you are protected by the SFU-Teaching Support Staff Union Collective Agreement (CA). This legally binding agreement gives you a wide range of rights and helps them implement them. If you need help navigating your rights within the certification body, you can contact the TSSU at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 778-782-4735. The final outcome of the arbitration of an 18-month labour dispute was obtained by the TSSU on April 21, 2016 with the employer Simon Fraser University, this new collective agreement is in effect until April 30, 2019. A collective agreement is a mandatory legal contract between employers and unionized workers. The Union acts on behalf of all its members in the bargaining unit and the BOARD covers the terms of employment.
A certification body forms the rules of our relationship with the employer. The current TSSU collective agreement can be find here. While ATTs, teachers and session instructors – among other SFU employees – enjoy working conditions clearly defined by their certification bodies, ARs are too often left in the dark. RA`s work at the SFU is murky and when we talk about confusion and exaxation with our RAs colleagues, we often notice it. We hear that the ARs do not know what is expected of them, what their hours should be, even if they are paid by the hour. This lack of transparency has led to ongoing problems, misunderstandings and ill-treatment. RAs should have the right to negotiate for legally binding contracts that clearly open up their obligations and expectations, those of their superiors (supervisors) and the employer (SFU).