Frequently Asked Questions, Nov. 20, 2015
What is the purpose of the strike vote?
TRU Faculty Association (TRUFA) members voted in favour of striking on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015. The vote shows they are willing to take job action if the employer does not take the negotiations seriously.
What was the outcome of the strike vote?
There was an 80% vote in favour of striking, and 2/3 of the eligible faculty members voted.
What is a “strike averting” action?
Strike averting is any action that increases the union’s chances of negotiating a decent settlement without having to walk out. There are generally two forms of strike averting:
- Actions that demonstrate union members’ support for the union’s bargaining goals and demonstrate the members’ willingness to walk out, if necessary, to achieve these goals.
- Actions outside of the local aimed at putting pressure on the employer to improve their offer to the union.
What are some examples of strike averting action and strike activities?
These may include job actions, such as a theme day when everyone wears buttons or certain colour clothing on a specific day, press releases, demonstrations, campaigns such as leafleting the community.
How do we know this is the best strategy?
The Faculty’s bargaining committee does not take the decision to strike lightly, and they have considered many factors including what is occurring provincially and federally in the post-secondary sector. Consultation with members and other stakeholders has happened, and TRUFA has also taken into consideration past practice of TRU and their bargaining strategies.
If TRUFA believes they have bargained in good faith and have taken the appropriate time to try to achieve an agreement with the employer, this may be the best strategy for them.
Shouldn’t we just “go along to get along”?
Some people feel that any workplace conflict is “ugly” or “unseemly”. However, the ultimate goal of a strike vote is not to create conflict but to help ensure talks are productive and keep moving forward. Putting public pressure on the employer motivates both parties to reach a good and fair settlement.
Should we be afraid of being stigmatized by other employees or reprimanded by managers?
Management cannot discipline members for supporting their union. If there is any action taken by management as a result of our solidarity with TRUFA’s work actions, our union will support you.
Why should we help TRUFA?
We belong to a union because we can improve the workplace and the lives of workers only through our united, democratic voice and willingness to take action.
Strikes can be won or lost depending on the support received from families, friends, and our fellow union members. There are individuals and groups within a community who will not hesitate to undermine the relations of the strikers with their spouses, neighbours, family members, and co-workers. It is important that in event of a strike or lockout we communicate with and support the faculty members as much as possible.
How can we afford to strike?
Some might think: I have a mortgage or rent to pay; I can’t afford to strike. On the contrary, we could lose much more if we do not support this strike. Our ability to have a say in the workplace and to resolve conflict fairly through collective bargaining is what is at stake. If workers do not stand together, we lose much more than a paycheque.
The loss of a paycheque is stressful for many striking workers. Even union members who do not face financial hardship may find a long strike very stressful. If a strike is called, CUPE 4879’s Executive committee will look at using our strike/defense funds to help members facing financial and emotional hardship during this strike, but the truth is strike pay is not enough to take care of all the needs of members. Members with outstanding loans or mortgages may have trouble making payments, although there may be various methods to negotiate a moratorium on payments with credit and loan companies.
Keep in mind that TRUFA’s vote in favour of a strike does not necessarily mean that there will be an all-out strike or a long one. Often a strong, favourable vote will avert a strike if it motivates the employer to return to bargaining in good faith. Also, there are many forms of strike action that may not mean a loss of regular pay to the members, but still have an effect on the employer or services.
What would a strike mean to me?
If there are picket lines, we will be asked by TRUFA not to cross their lines. This puts pressure on the employer to negotiate a fair deal and to negotiate in a timely manner.
The achievements that TRUFA may win through bargaining and work action may open the door for our bargaining unit and vice versa. Success for one can be success for all.
Nothing that is achieved in a collective agreement has ever just been given to the employees by the employer. The rights in our collective agreements were won by hard work and negotiation with the support of members past and present. The benefits and language enjoyed were fought and earned article by article in negotiation after negotiation. Unions have won benefits such as dental, eyewear, education allowances and tuition waivers, compressed time-off language, accrued sick time, vacation language, bereavement and compassionate leave, layoff rights, and anti-harassment language. These were won by union members willing to stand up for their work and stand together with their co-workers.
Will this hurt students?
It would be impossible to avoid any disruption to students if work action takes place. The majority of faculty and staff work with and for students. By standing with TRUFA members and honouring their picket lines and other strike actions, we can make it less likely that there will be long or serious disruptions for students.
What about essential services like the animals at AHT and sensitive plants in Horticulture/Biology?
The employer and the unions will discuss essential services in the event of a walk out or a lock out. In the past we have ensured that animals and sensitive or endangered plants are cared for, and that the daycare is able to continue to operate. In addition, we can consider having members available on pagers/cell phones should an emergency arise in the institution’s HVAC and operations of the buildings and systems. Those details will need to be negotiated. All bargaining units on campus are involved with these decisions through a process.
If I have a vacation booked prior to a strike, will I get strike pay while on vacation?
The strike pay provided by CUPE National and CUPE BC is paid to those who meet the eligibility and do a minimum of 20 hours of duties on the picket line. If an employee is out of the country or out of province, the local may look at the situation on a case by case basis if the vacation cannot be rescheduled. Those who can reschedule their vacation would be asked to do so and would be expected to work on the picket line along with their fellow co-workers as per the requirements.
What strike pay and benefits can I expect?
Please see the chart CUPE Strike Pay Chart english showing when strike pay will take effect for CUPE BC and CUPE National Strike Funds. This will be guaranteed money for those members participating in the strike based on a minimum of 20 hours of duties on the picket line or other work being done for the Local. Please note that the maximum strike pay at the 10 day period is a combined CUPE BC and CUPE National strike pay of $375/week. Strike pay is meant to subsidize members, and it will not cover all costs if the strike action is a lengthy one.
Please note that the employer is expected to ensure that benefits to members continue.