Strike FAQ

CUPE 3912 Fall 2022 BBQ

1. What is a strike?

A strike is the legal act of ceasing work during contract negotiations to pressure the Employer to agree to employees’ demands in collective bargaining. Typically, this is paired with employees picketing.

It is constitutionally protected under The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (s. 2(d)).

2. How do I stop working?

As a hard and fast rule for teachers on strike, students should not be learning anything you would teach during the duration of the strike.

This means that:

  • Students can work on projects they have already been assigned, but you should not assist them with their projects during a strike.
  • Students can study material that’s already been taught, but you should not provide them with new material (recorded lectures, assignments, etc.) intended to be taught during the period a strike occurs.
  • Students can hand in assignments, but you should not hand back graded assignments during a strike.

We also ask that instructors (CUPE 3912 members or not) be considerate of their students and not test them at a later date on content that they were not able to learn during a strike.

3. What is picketing?

Picketing is protesting outside the workplace in support of the union’s demands.

4. Who can picket?

While pickets are primarily composed of union members on strike, anyone can join a picket. Only union members on strike, however, are eligible for strike pay.

5. Will the Employer pay me on strike?

The Employer will stop pay for all union members on strike regardless of whether you participate in the strike or not. This pay can, however, be replaced with strike pay if you complete strike duties.

6. What is strike pay?

Strike pay is a replacement source of income for union members on strike. It’s primarily paid for by union dues that are collected from your paycheck and is completely tax free. You can think of it as employment insurance for striking.

Our strike pay comes from CUPE National, the head organization of all CUPE locals in Canada.

7. How do I collect strike pay?

Strike pay is earned through picketing or performing other union activities while on strike. Strike pay begins at $15/hour and ramps up to $20/hour the longer we are on strike.

Period of Strike Strike pay
Weeks 1-7 $15.00/hour
Weeks 8-11 $17.50/hour
Weeks 12-15 $18.75/hour
Weeks 16+ $20.00/hour

Typically, CUPE unions require 20 hours/week of picketing or other union activities to qualify for strike pay, but CUPE National commonly removes this requirement for unions like ours composed of members who do not work full time. A member on strike can picket for as long as they want, but can only earn strike pay for up to a total of 20 hours per week.

8. Can the Employer fire or punish me for striking?

The Employer cannot legally fire or punish you for picketing or performing any other union activities.

9. Can someone else do my work?

The Employer is legally allowed to ask someone else to complete your work, but they are not allowed to punish them in any way for refusing to do your work.

10. What does it mean to “cross the picket line?”

“Crossing the picket line” is exactly as it sounds–walking past the workers blocking off an area to fight for a better deal. For example, if a picket line is surrounding a building and you enter the building anyway, you are crossing the picket line.

Though this might seem small, not standing with your fellow union members and continuing to work during a strike undermines our position and can cause either the strike to last longer or the final deal to be less than we’re asking for.

In addition, you will not be paid for performing work while on strike, which means you’re wasting your own time and effort.

11. What is a “scab”?

A scab is an individual who crosses the picket line to do their own work or the work of another striking union employee. These individuals are unhelpful and destructive to the union’s efforts to better your working conditions. Scabs often face social repercussions for their behaviour. Their activity is often recorded and published online by their fellow workers.

12. What is a “scrape”?

A scrape is a supervisor who threatens or intimidates their employees to cross the picket line. Simply put, scrapes create scabs. Forcing or pressuring unionized employees who are on strike to work is illegal (see above). If a scab faces some social repercussions, a scrape faces significantly more if not also legal repercussions.

13. What can I do if my supervisor is pressuring me to be a scab?

Immediately contact your VP. You will be guided on the appropriate actions to take in order to exercise your right to strike. Impeding a member from striking is illegal and can have repercussions for the impedor.

14. When do we go on strike?

Strategically timing the strike is very important for the strike’s success, especially in the educational sector. One very important aspect to consider when timing a strike is whether members have their contracts or at least a first paystub. These are essential for ensuring members can get strike pay as they are needed to confirm that a member is on strike as opposed to just not working when a strike occurs.

15. Will there be accessibility accommodations made during the strike or at the picket line?

Our goal is to ensure your accessibility needs are cared for. We will be providing common types of accommodations during picketing. If you need an accommodation, reach out to your Strike Committee to discuss options that are not physically picketing.

16. Will I be paid the rest of my contract when the strike ends?

The terms of returning to work will be negotiated between us and the Employer during discussions to end the strike. We (CUPE 3912 members) may collectively and democratically decide not to go back to work unless the Employer pays out the rest of our contracts

17. Why do I have to strike when I did not vote for a Strike Mandate?

A significant amount of work needs to be done between a strike vote and an actual strike. However, we are ensuring that new members have their thoughts and opinions represented through our strike demands surveys you should have received by email (if you have not received a survey link, please contact your VP). This survey informs the negotiating committee what kind of collective agreement we should accept for a strike to end.

We are fighting for all Part-Time Academics regardless of how long they have been working. The collective agreement we eventually reach will benefit everyone in the union, regardless of the length of their employment.

18. Will I still be able to access my email?

Part-Time Academics who are not students should prepare to be locked out of their email, Brightspace, and OneDrive for the duration of the strike. Students should not lose email email access, but if you do, please contact your VP.

19. My supervisor says they are saving my work until after the strike. Will I get paid for completing it?

All work performed after the end of the strike will be paid as per the return to work terms negotiated between us and the Employer.

20.  I work a non-CUPE 3912 staff position at the university too. What does that mean during a strike?

Positions that are not part of our union will continue running as normal. This means you might be asked to keep working, but you are not required to cross the picket line during the strike. If you don’t feel comfortable crossing the picket lines, contact your union to discuss your options..

21. Most of my work is completed at the beginning of my contract, but I am paid equally throughout the semester. Will I receive my full pay?

The strike does not affect your entitlement to payment for work you performed before the strike—the Employer is required to pay for such work in any event.

If you find yourself in a situation where the Employer is not paying you for work already performed before the strike began, please contact your VP.

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