News From Elsewhere: Open Letter from Faculty in Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Simon Fraser (SFU)

Colleagues, I draw your attention to an open letter published today by faculty at Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, BC) in response to the strike action being taken by their Teaching Support Staff Union and CUPE Local 3338. The letter has been published in the Georgia Straight (the Vancouver equivalent of Edmonton’s Vue Weekly).

November 5 2012

Open Letter on the SFU labour dispute:

We, the undersigned SFU faculty members, are in solidarity with the TSSU and CUPE in their struggle for better working conditions. The workers represented by TSSU and CUPE deserve a better deal—they deserve better working conditions, they deserve a better wage, and they deserve more respect from their employer for the work they do. And they deserve a real contract, having been without one for two years now.

The campus unions’ struggle, however, goes beyond their immediate bargaining demands.

The primary mission of this public university—to teach its students well—is not accomplished only in the classroom. It is also accomplished by the example the university sets. The university should be an engaging and engaged intellectual environment, and a good and fair and decent place to work.

But working conditions at SFU have been worsening for years. Wages have been frozen while workloads have risen. The educational system is under increasing stress, from reduced faculty numbers to larger classes, from rapidly rising fees to streamlined academic programs. Students are paying more for reduced programs, and graduate student workers are being paid less for doing more work.

Everyone is told to “do more with less.” But that is another word for austerity at SFU and in the university sector in BC at large. The university administration is passing on the burden of austerity to its workers. While administrators raise their salaries at a rate faster than faculty and staff salaries, while resources are diverted to areas of the university that are not of direct benefit to its education mission, SFU’s most vulnerable employees—TAs, sessionals, contingent faculty and staff—are being hit the hardest.

The TSSU and CUPE struggle is a struggle against this austerity. It is more than a demand for better wages for the unions’ members; its aim is more than better working conditions. Its aim is for a better university, a university worthy of being called a place of higher education. It is a demand for a university that is truly engaged in the world and that is a truly engaging place to work and teach and learn.

In other words, TSSU and CUPE’s struggle is a struggle that concerns every member of the SFU community and we should all, wholeheartedly, support and engage in this struggle.

Signed,

Ian Angus, Professor, Department of Humanities

Yildiz Atasoy, Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Sabine Bitter, Assistant Professor, School for the Contemporary Arts

John Bogardus, Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology and Anthropology

John Brohman, Associate Professor, Department of Geography

Enda Brophy, Assistant Professor, School of Communication

Adrienne Burk, Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Teaching Fellow, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Clint Burnham, Associate Professor, Department of English

John Calvert, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science

Wendy Chan, Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Elise Chenier, Associate Professor, Department of History

David Chariandy, Associate Professor, Department of English

Allyson Clay, Professor, School for the Contemporary Arts

Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Professor, Department of Political Science and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies

Stephen Collis, Associate Professor, Department of English

Dara Culhane, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Leith Davis, Professor, Department of English

Anne-Marie Feenberg-Dibon, Associate Professor, Department of Humanities

Jeff Derksen, Associate Professor, Department of English

Parin Dossa, Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Daniel Dunford, Lecturer, Faculty of Education

Monica Escudero, Senior Lecturer, Spanish Language Program, Language Training Institute

Michael Everton, Associate Professor, Department of English

Samir Gandesha, Associate Professor, Department of Humanities

Tom Grieve, Associate Professor, Department of English

Rick Gruneau, Professor, School of Communication

Peter Hall, Associate Professor, Urban Studies Program

Gary Harris, Senior Lecturer, School for the Contemporary Arts

Steven Hill, Assistant Professor, School for the Contemporary Arts

Meg Holden, Associate Professor, Department of Urban Studies and Geography

Christine Kim, Assistant Professor, Department of English

Dany Lacombe, Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Mark Leier, Professor, Department of History

Carolyn Lesjak, Associate Professor, Department of English

Michelle Levy, Associate Professor, Department of English

Margaret Linley, Associate Professor, Department of English

Sonia Luehrmann, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Sophie McCall, Associate Professor, Department of English

Eugene McCann, Professor, Department of Geography

Geoff Mann, Associate Professor, Department of Geography

Robert Menzies, Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Marina Morrow, Associate Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, Director, Centre for the Study of Gender, Social Inequities and Mental Health

Gerardo Otero, Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Roxanne Panchasi, Associate Professor, Department of History

Cindy Patton, Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology and Canada Research Chair

Christopher Pavsek, Associate Professor, School for the Contemporary Arts

Stacy Leigh Pigg, Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Stuart R. Poynts, Assistant Professor, School of Communication

Elspeth Pratt, Lecturer, School for the Contemporary Arts

Deanna Reder, Assistant Professor, First Nations Studies and Department of English

Bernhard Riecke, Assistant Professor, School of Interactive Arts and Technology

Michael Schmitt, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

Carl James Schwarz, Professor, Statistics and Actuarial Science

Jamie Scott, Professor, Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and Faculty of Health Sciences

Eleanor Stebner, J. S. Woodsworth Chair, Department of Humanites

Paul Matthew St. Pierre, Professor, Department of English

Janet C. Sturgeon, Associate Professor, Department of Geography

Gary Teeple, Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Ann Travers, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Michele Valiquette, Senior Lecturer, Department of English

J. R. Welch, Associate Professor, Department of Archeology and School of Resource and Environmental Management

Jin-me Yoon, Professor, School for the Contemporary Arts

Jerry Zaslove, Professor Emeritus, Departments of English and Humanities

Kirsten Zickfeld, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography 

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