Letter to the Editor: KSA needs to come to the bargaining table with it’s staff

KSA staff are reaching out to students in hopes of coming to an agreement with their employer. (File photo)

KSA staff are reaching out to students in hopes of coming to an agreement with their employer. (File photo)

Kwantlen students,

As staff of the Kwantlen Student Association (KSA), we provide many services including peer- support, the Student Rights Centre, Reboot Computer Repair Centre, food bank, locker rentals, events, Grassroots Café, catering, and more. 

Whether it’s organizing events, helping students appeal an unfair grade, lobbying the government to improve students’ lives, or supporting the dozens of clubs at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, we work every day to implement the programs and services that help shape our KPU community.

We formed our union in 2011 to protect our rights as workers and negotiate our wages and working conditions. Our third collective agreement with the KSA expired in 2022, and we have been negotiating for almost a year. 

When we took our first-ever strike vote in December, staff at the KSA stood united with 97.3 per cent voting to strike, signalling that we are ready to do what it takes to achieve an agreement that allows us to retain quality staff while building on the programs we deliver.

The reality is we can’t continue to do this work as the cost of living rises and our working conditions remain uncertain. The KSA has had five executive directors and lost many staff members in the last 13 months, all while we continued to deliver services and run events like “Welcome Week” to greet new and returning students, organized hikes, and planned other life-enriching events.

In an environment of high turnover of management and staff, the KSA has struggled to live up to its commitments to its membership. KSA council has been late to the KSA’s budgeting and strategic planning deadlines, barely hired a Chief Returning Officer (CRO) in time to run the election, and has had to cancel several events because of poor and unsafe planning. We have never faced this kind of chaos and discord in bargaining before. KSA leadership is in disarray, and it’s taking a toll on staff.

We don’t want to go on strike, but we need livable wages to continue to deliver services students rely on in communities across the Lower Mainland. We are losing staff to higher-paying jobs. Staff at Grassroots Café are mostly international students who rely largely on on-campus work to afford to live while paying exorbitant tuition fees.

Everything we are asking for falls within the KSA’s means. The wage increases we have proposed would not require increasing student fees or cutting money from other programs.

The KSA is run by, and for, students to protect your interests and enrich your lives at KPU. Many of the KSA staff are fellow students or alumni. We are committed to continuing to provide the vital services and programs to fulfil this mandate.

We are reaching out to students to help pressure the KSA to come back to the table with an offer we can accept. We care about KPU students and want to continue to find new ways to support you as you progress through academic life.

Kwantlen Student Association staff