Last updated October 19, 2012 3:20 PM
What is a strike? What is Job Action?
A strike is any cessation or refusal to work by employees, in combination or accordance with a common understanding, where the goal is to restrict or limit service to the employer. (Labour Relations Code, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 244, s. 1)
Another way to describe this is “job action.” Both encompass everything from a refusal to work overtime, to rotating strikes (where only part of the bargaining unit is on strike at any one time), to creative ways of drawing attention to our labour power. This can also mean a full-blown stoppage of work. Each Job Action/Strike is different and depends largely on the specifics of the union engaging in such activity.
What is a strike vote?
A union conducts a strike vote when it polls the members of its bargaining unit to determine whether they want to go on strike. A strike vote is a formal and regulated action that is governed by rules from the labour relations board. This last occurred in March 2012.
Who can vote in a strike vote?
You can only vote in a strike vote if you are a current employee at the time of the vote.
How will I know when or where a strike vote is taking place?
The Labour Relations Regulations (B.C. Reg 154/99) require that all eligible members be notified of the date, time and place where a strike vote is being conducted at least 48 hours in advance of the vote.
Should a strike vote become necessary, we will announce the date, place and time of polling to you by email, facebook, twitter and/or posters around the campus. Please keep reading any emails you receive from us, as that is likely the most effective way of communicating the strike vote details to you.
How is the vote conducted?
The vote is conducted by secret ballot, which will read:
Are you in favour of a strike? Yes ☐ No ☐
What happens after the strike vote?
If the majority of members who voted are in favour of a strike, then the Union has what’s called a “strike mandate”.
If we vote in favour of a strike, does that mean we’re automatically on strike?
NO! A strike mandate means that the Union CAN call a strike, but not that it must. If the Union does decide to call a strike, it still has to give 72 hours notice to the employer and to the Labour Relations Board.
Once the Union has given strike notice to the employer and the Labour Relations Board, does that mean we’re on strike?
NO! If, as a result of the strike notice, the employer comes back to the table and makes efforts to settle the terms of the collective agreement in a fair and meaningful way, the Union may decide not to go on strike immediately after the expiry of the 72 hour notice period. BUT IT CAN, and it WILL, if the situation in bargaining hasn’t changed.
You will be given specific notice of the date and time when any strike is scheduled to commence.
If we don’t go on strike right away, when CAN we go on strike?
A strike mandate expires after three (3) months*. Once we have given 72 hours strike notice, we can go on strike at any time, but must have some form of action within the 3 month window.
If we are NOT on strike on the date our strike mandate expires, we need to conduct another strike vote in order to engage in any future job action.
If we ARE on strike on the date our mandate expires, then the strike continues to be legal.
*A key exception to this rule is when the union and employer are booked into mediation. The 3 month clock is paused for the duration of mediation until one party (the union, the employer or the mediator) “books out” ending the process. We have confirmed that the March 2012 strike mandate will remain valid for 2 months following the end of mediation, whenever that occurs.
What happens to the collective agreement during a strike?
The collective agreement does not operate during a strike. Technically, we have not had a collective agreement for two years, and instead have agreed that the old collective agreement “continue” until a new one is reached. So, even though we have no collective agreement, we continue to operate under the terms of the old one, i.e. wages and benefits first agreed to back in 2005.
That agreement to continue the terms of the old agreement ends the moment we go on strike.
Will I get paid during a strike?
You would NOT receive your regular wages during a strike. Instead, we receive strike pay from the union for doing strike related work (such as time on the picket line or alternative strike work as needed) which is $250 per week. Strike pay is not taxed and this makes a big difference. The hours of work required to receive strike pay will be decided if/when the local goes on strike, but should not go over the 12 hours/week expected of a TA.
How long would a strike last?
We can’t say. The length of a strike is determined by how long it takes the parties to come to an agreement on the terms of the new collective agreement. If bargaining is going well, the Union may call an end to a strike before a new agreement is reached, but we must be prepared to stay on strike until bargaining is concluded.
There is also a chance that the provincial government will legislate us back to work before a new agreement is reached and regardless of how well bargaining is going. If the government passes legislation requiring us to end our strike (as they last did in 2003), then we must end our strike.
In the event of job action/strike, how long do I need to picket to qualify for strike pay?
In case of a strike, a decision would have to be made on how much work is required to receive strike pay. In the past, it has usually been only a few hours per week on a picket line, or other duties if the member cannot actively picket due to special needs.
Is the vote on Wednesday, Oct 24th, 2012 a “strike vote”?
No. As we already hold a positive strike mandate, we do not need to hold another strike vote. A strike vote is a complicated and highly regulated event with legal ramifications. The vote on Wednesday is for the exec to gauge the will of the membership before potentially activating that strike mandate, is non binding, and is purely for our information on how to best serve our members.
Can the vote on Wednesday, Oct 24th, 2012 invalidate the positive strike mandate from March 2012?
No! The Strike mandate from March remains legally intact regardless of the outcome of the vote on the 24th. The purpose of this vote is to gauge the opinions of our membership and to ensure new TAs are consulted in the ultimate decision to begin job action or not.
What do I need to do on Wednesday, Oct 24th, 2012 to vote?
Please come to the union office (Office: #218 – 2150 Western Parkway, Vancouver, BC) between 9AM and 7 PM. Please review information on this site and on facebook to make sure you understand what is at stake. If you have any questions, feel free to ask a member of the exec at the polling station or contact us via email. We will have a list of members of the union who are eligible to vote (People with TA positions from Sept. 2011-Dec 2012) and we will be checking a photo ID to confirm your identity.
This was posted by requests from our members and will continue to be updated as more questions arise. Thanks for asking! – CUPE 2278 Exec Team