Teaching Support Staff Union

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

Teaching Support Staff Union

Parallel form(s) of name

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Other form(s) of name

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence

1979 -


The Teaching Support Staff Union is the representative bargaining agent for Teaching Assistants, Tutor Markers, Language Instructors and Sessional Instructors at Simon Fraser University. The union negotiates terms and conditions of work, rates of pay, benefits and grievance procedures in a Collective Agreement with the University.

In 1971 graduate students organized the Graduate Student Union, an association that worked to improve teaching and research conditions. The GSU was inactive after 1974 but the discussion it had initiated regarding unionization continued until 1976 when twelve graduate students held a union organizational meeting in September of that year. They proposed affiliation with the Association of University and College Employees (AUCE) rather than the Canadian Union of Public Employees or the University of Toronto based Graduate Assistants' Association. The Teaching Support Staff Union, as it would be named, favored AUCE because of its relative smallness, democratic structure, local autonomy, strong representation of women's employment rights, and the established presence at SFU, since 1974, of AUCE Local 2 for office, clerical and technical staff. Accordingly, the TSSU received its charter as AUCE Local 6 on September 10, 1976.

The TSSU took additional steps to establish themselves as a legal entity under the British Columbia Labour Code. By April 1978 the TSSU had signed over 50% of the bargaining unit into the union. It then applied to the Labour Relations Board for a certification vote to make the TSSU the representative body for the bargaining unit. Before the vote could be held, however, the LRB conducted a hearing to define the membership of the bargaining unit, which had been disputed by the University. Following an LRB ruling in TSSU's favor, the certification vote was finally held in November 1978. The vote was positive despite an effort by some Language Assistants to have the LRB exclude them from the bargaining unit and the vote. The LRB certified the union on December 13, 1978.

In January 1979 the union began bargaining with the University for a first collective agreement. The TSSU and the University administration negotiated each article individually and resolved impasses through mediation. During negotiations, the TSSU successfully complained to the LRB that the University had violated Section 51 of the Labour Code by withholding an annual pay increase. The first Collective Agreement was signed by both sides on July 1, 1980, and has been renegotiated from time to time.

TSSU supported its sister local, AUCE 2, during the latter's strike in 1979. In 1983 and 1984, TSSU joined other campus unions in Operation Solidarity, a province-wide organization opposed to Premier Bennett's Social Credit restraint legislation.

TSSU remained as the last independent local of AUCE until the latter's dissolution in the early 1990s. Still functioning as an independent union, TSSU operates under a constitution and bylaws as a membership-driven organization. Union policy, bargaining positions, and the election of union officers and salaried officers are decided by the membership through meetings, mail-in ballots, and referenda. Departmental stewards serve as immediate contacts for TSSU members. In addition, a number of standing committees conduct on-going business and help direct the executive and general membership. Ad hoc committees have functioned from time to time.


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