“As a TA you know what to expect. As an RA I went through weeks of non-payment as I continued working. It’s the clarity and protection of TA work that I appreciated most. It’s nice to have people in the union that can help you or a collective agreement to consult. Why is everything about being an RA so opaque? An RAship is like a blackbox.”

Terrence (current RA)

“One night during my PhD, I noticed a very unsafe condition in a laboratory space at SFU; a contractor had left a loaded high-pressure compressed gas cylinder with the regulator attached that was not secured and could potentially fall over resulting in a projectile that would blow through foot thick concrete walls, certainly killing anyone in its path. I ensured no one else was in the area and reported this safety incident via SFU’s protocol.

“I was soon called in for a meeting with SFU Managers and SFU safety personnel. Although they agreed the situation was unsafe, Safety Personnel stayed silent while Management berated me for reporting the incident. I was being disciplined and told I was one strike away from being expelled from SFU because I did the right thing!

“Before that meeting I was a star student with a major NSERC scholarship who believed in SFU. After, I knew I could never live with myself working for the university and have been building an exit plan from academia.”

Mackenzie (former RA)

“Knowing what the union could offer against un-unionized working conditions was a big reason that I became involved with TSSU.”

Lia (former RA)

“I didn’t get paid for the entirety of my contract on this project, and only finally received a single lump-sum payment several months after the project had ended.”

Jamie (Current RA)