The Understanding Precarity in BC (UP-BC) Partnership stands in solidarity with TSSU members and academic workers at Simon Fraser University as they continue their strike for a fair contract. UP-BC is a research partnership involving community-based and service providing organizations, unions, and academics, which includes Research Assistants who are TSSU members.

TSSU is fighting for a fair contract for Teaching Assistants, Education Mentors, Graduate Facilitators in the Student Learning Commons and Media and Maker Commons, and ELC/ITP/ITA instructors, after the last contract expired on April 30, 2022. TSSU has also been bargaining for a first contract for Research Assistants. Research Assistants and Grant Employees unionized with the TSSU in November 2019; bargaining finally commenced on March 23, 2021, but they are still without a contract. TSSU’s struggles are a part of existing worldwide struggles against worker precarity and against the exacerbated exploitation under neoliberalism.

The onus lies entirely on the university administration to meet the needs of its workers and offer them a fair contract. We are especially concerned about employer’s threat to take away TSSU employee health benefits. Simon Fraser runs because workers make it run.

As TSSU notes, “We’re being expected to do more work, whether it be bigger classes or blended courses, while the portion of the budget going towards us has shrunk from 5% in 2012 to 4% in 2022. SFU continues to have huge budget surpluses and will not put that to use by supporting those who do the bulk of the front-line teaching and research at SFU. Many of us are graduate students, we are fighting for better compensation and cost of living adjustments, better health benefits and pensions for instructors.”

UP-BC’s support and solidarity go out to the striking workers at Simon Fraser University, and we urge the administration of this university to take the necessary steps to negotiate a fair contract.