Open letter: SFU faculty claim working conditions "worsening for years"

Editor's note: More than over 60 faculty members at Simon Fraser University have signed this open letter, released today (November 5) amid a labour dispute between the university and striking unionized workers with CUPE Local 3338 and the Teaching Support Staff Union.

SFU Faculty Letter on Labour Dispute

Comments (18) Add New Comment
Dianne
THANK YOU to those faculty willing to stand up and speak out.

I cannot fathom faculty remaining silent when the refrain is 'doing more with less' and fellow employees are under attack. Where will you be, who will be standing by your side when it is your turn to bargain with these same employers?
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SFU Staff & Alumni
Thank you so much for the support! I hope that people understand that many staff here are SFU alumni, and it is a shame we are being treated in this way.
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Straight Reader
Those who follow the rapid increase in the number of senior administrators in recent years may wish to check out an eye-opening bulletin entitled, "How many Administrators do we need at SFU?":

http://people.stat.sfu.ca/~cschwarz/SFUFA/EBinfo/EB2012/BargainingBullet...

Other stats can be found on http://www.sfufa.ca/.
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SFU Grad Student
It's so true, I went to an "engage session" last year and the people in charge were touting how we do the most with the least. The only faculty in the room stood up and said, "Do you administrators know what that means? That means no weekends with your kids, no time to breath, no time to think. It means that we're lagging behind other universities in very real ways, and that there are no incentives to stay!"

All of the grad students and other workers in the room started clapping, I swear I almost gave her a standing ovation. The only thing I could add would be to share with the room how I'm working a job on top of my TAship just to stay afloat, living hand to mouth, and how my research is suffering because of it ... we're one of the lowest compensated universities in Canada!
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SFU Alumni
I am so glad Faculty are taking a stand on this issue. There are a ridiculous number of over paid managers and administrators at SFU. Infact, there are departments with almost as many managers as employees. How can they justify this in the situation? As an SFU alumni I would not recommend SFU for grad school until they fix this funding problem and fire some managers.
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SFU TA
Fantastic letter.

The SFU administrators need a serious reality check.
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iang62
As someone who worked at SFU Burnaby for 8 years, I can assure everyone who does not work there that this minor storm in a tiny tea cup will pass and SFU will go back to being the little community on the hill that we see on the occasional tv show.

Otherwise - I have never seen a more disconnected bunch of over paid employees in my life. In fact SFU prides itself on it's isolation to the point of being above the rest of the lower mainland and I'm talking faculty, admin and it's well paid CUPE workers.

The only time the rest of the lower mainland ever see's anything from SFU is there is some kind of harassment issue or its coming up to job action/strike. The irony in the latter is CUPE will never actually strike because it can't afford to lose favour with students/faculty and general public by cutting access to classes.

I confess I have long relationship with SFU from the early 80's, as a student, parent with kids in the childcare centre, as an alumni board member, pub worker, radio station volunteer and CUPE 3338 VP & shop steward. When I finally got out of the place it was like what I imagine being released from prison feels like - institutionalised - just like the people who work there ! I saw so many good people get treated like dirt at SFU, eventually they got around to me.

The irony is despite their aires of cleverness, moral superiority and regulations to prevent harassment, bullying and the like, SFU continues to be a prime example of how nothing ever changes, gets done or actually implements its own idealistic sense of morality. Institionalised harassment is rampant at SFU and no one does anything [including the union] about it because it is so much part of the culture. Too many good people have been traumatised by an overly zealous admin and a toothless union local fronted by the same people for the last 35 years.

Anyone thinking of working at SFU needs to know what they are getting in to - despite the promise of an idealised work place, the conditions are far worse than many other less paid, less regulated and health benefit free work places. And since SFU is the biggest employer of SFU grads - the warning goes out to the students in attendance most of all.
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ex-grad
as a graduate I wish I could disagree with iang62. I wish I could be proud of my alma mater but the post above is sadly accurate. I'm glad I got turned down from a job, discussions with people afterwards showed me that I'm by far not the only one and in fact I'm not the problem. I've moved on to greener pastures. the radical times are long gone.
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Jean
I thank the faculty for providing a show of support during some trying times. Obviously if I shared Ian62 and ex-grad's perspective I would have handed in my resignation and moved on, but feel quite differently about the opportunities students and staff can find within this institution.
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Anon
As a Business TA, I'm glad none of our faculty members are supporting this nonsense. Despite all the rhetoric of the TSSU, they continue to ignore the realities of this faculty.

TSSU has proposed a comprehensive priority system that provides access to qualified applicants, based on department, as follows:

Current Graduates inside the department
Graduates entering the department
Current Graduates from outside the department
Graduates entering the university in other departments
Undergraduates
Anyone else

The business faculty employs a large majority of the undergraduate TAs because there are just not enough business graduate students to fill the positions. Not only would this ranking system hurt current UTAs in the business faculty - it will hurt the students as the quality of instruction will go down. The UTAs in this faculty pay dues so the TSSU to try to negotiate away our jobs. Big surprise that there's no solidarity from us.
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Mr.J
Dear Anon: not everything is about you or your department alone.
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Science Student
I notice that almost all of those professors are in Arts, and represents less than 5% of all faculty.
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SFU Grad Student
TSSU Facebook Update: Due to popular faculty demand the list's supporters are now being continuously updated on this page http://sfufacultyopenletter.blogspot.ca/ . 'Science Student', maybe you should send it to your faculty, who knows maybe they just didn't get the notice.
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sessional
Interesting that none of the faculty who signed the letter were from the Faculty of Education. Why is that?
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Dianne
Have another look (sessional) as more are adding their names and it now includes three from faculty of Education. Let's hope many more speak up, after all surely they understand first hand what this means for the state of publicly funded education in BC.
http://sfufacultyopenletter.blogspot.ca/



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currentstudent
I support CUPE and TSSU 100% and I hope SFU can get their heads straight and get back to the bargaining table.
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SFU Undergrad
I agree with Science Student and Anon. The Arts faculty is driving this job action and dragging everybody else down with them.
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Another grad student (science)
"Mr. J" would you really want to be under the tutelage for International Business by a microbiologist grad student? There may be a diamond in the rough, but my guess is probably no. Just as I, a science grad student, would not want to TA an English lit class. A third year undergrad could probably do a much better job at it then I could.

"SFU Grad Student" the notice has been heard, the cause is now just getting lost. Liberal arts are definitely driving this with even though there are now a few other faculties stepping up with their names. Consensus is Arts. You can't deny it.

I feel the TSSU is not withholding information from its members as a whole, but they sure are making us go out of the way to get bulk of it. They sure do like sending us updates about what the University is doing wrong though and how bad they are being to us. Get a deal done! Stop whining, we're not going to get everything we want neither will the university. I feel like the damn NHLPA now vs the NHL.
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