The Bargaining teams are at an impasse – What Happens Next?
If the university continues to refuse to bargain with the best interests of our members in mind, the bargaining team’s next option is to file for conciliation. This means that the Ministry of Labour will send in a third party to assist in negotiations with the hope of bringing the Union and the University towards a negotiated settlement. We remain optimistic that such a settlement can be reached. In order for conciliation to be useful and effective, the bargaining team will also then need to consider holding a strike vote.
Does a Strike vote mean we have to go on Strike?
No. A positive strike vote from the membership of the Union authorizes the bargaining team to call a strike if the bargaining team believes it will be necessary to achieve a fair deal that reflects the priorities identified by the membership in our bargaining survey. If the membership votes not to authorize a strike, the University will take this as a signal that the membership is willing to accept whatever the University dictates without a fight. This will force us to accept 1% increases to wages and benefits with no offsetting gains in any of the previously mentioned five areas.
What Would a Strike Look Like for TAs (and RAs in Lieu)?
Pay from the Employer stops, and benefits coverage could likely be interrupted. Instead of working 10 hours a week for their regular TA pay, striking Unit 1 members can receive strike pay in the amount of $15/hour for up to 20 hours a week of strike duties, for a total of $300 per week. Strike pay is not taxable income. The Union will also establish a Hardship Fund to help members in particularly precarious financial positions. Please note that a strike or a lockout should not impact your scholarship earnings at the University, or any other wages you may receive from non-CUPE 3906 Unit 1 TA or RA (in lieu) employment.
Can I keep working as a TA/RA-in-lieu during a Strike?
In the event of a strike, the University may offer you the opportunity to continue to work, however, if you choose to do so, you will not be covered by any of the language in the existing collective agreement. You will not have access to the grievance procedure or the protection of the Union should something happen. You also may be paid at a lesser rate than the Collective Agreement stipulates, and your access to benefits may be interrupted. You cannot continue to work as a TA/RA-in-lieu and collect strike pay. Working through a strike, or “scabbing,” also limits the effects of the strike, meaning that your striking colleagues have a much more difficult fight without you. As the old saying goes: “the longer the picket line, the shorter the strike.”
What can we do to avoid a Strike?
In order to avoid a strike, we must convince the University to meet us halfway. If they refuse to offer pay and benefits increases that keep up with inflation, they must offer enhanced job security, protections against future tuition increases, and opportunities for more paid hours to keep TAs and RAs-in-lieu from falling even further behind. If you want to help, you can represent your department as a Steward and help keep your colleagues up-to-date about what’s going on in the bargaining process, and you can also sign up to join the Bargaining Support Committee. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.