In a shocking turn of events, investigations undertaken by The Peak have revealed that the SFU administration has been paying its teaching assistants and sessional instructors with coupons for Canadian Tire.
The investigation comes in the wake of continued labour disputes between administration and the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU), which represents teaching assistants and sessional instructors on campus.
“We’re used to mistreatment by the administration, but this is just ridiculous. I mean, come on,” TSSU president Trish Everett-Kabut told reporters. “If they were going to pay us in fake money, they at least could have given us something more reputable, like counterfeit bills or British pounds. That would’ve given us a chance to buy our groceries and pay rent.”
Everett-Kabut, along with other members of the TSSU, have scheduled a protest at SFU’s Academic Quadrangle to oppose the policy. Due to budget constraints, members have elected to use cardboard signage instead of the usual gloss banners, and offer hot water instead of coffee to attendees.
Asked to comment on the controversy, VP academic and provost Peter Keller defended the administration’s actions.
“These TAs are already making below minimum wage, and we wanted to provide them with an opportunity to pay for the essentials, like lawnmower blades and pool noodles,” Keller stated. “Besides, Canadian Tire money is much more colourful than real money, and can function as wallpaper to cover up leaks and mould stains in the cheap apartments our TAs and sessionals are able to afford.”
President Andrew Petter also spoke in favour of the policy, noting, “that stuff is basically the same as real money, right? I’m not familiar with any bills below $100, so I wouldn’t know.”
Canadian Tire money comes in denominations ranging from 5¢ to $2, meaning that those paid in the currency are only making about 20¢ per hour, which is slightly less than their usual salary. The sheer amount of coupons being received has also posed a problem for TAs, with many reporting that their wallets have ripped due to their carrying so many more bills than usual.
However, not all members of the TSSU are unhappy with the change. As history TA Ben Klassen told The Peak, “at least now I can buy a weed whacker for my landscaping job on the side.”