Negotiations/Strike Frequently Asked Questions

Ratification

Is what we’re reading what will be in the collective agreement? – August 5, 2021

The Memorandum is exactly as was signed between the parties.

Do the changes take effect right away? – August 5, 2021

Until the agreemet is ratified, any proposed changes will not be in effect.

Can I tell my neighbor what the agreement is? – August 5, 2021

The Memorandum is a confidential document so please do not post, print or share outside our membership. This means we will not be posting it on our website either.

How do I vote? – August 5, 2021

We will be using Simply Voting; the same online voting platform we used for the strike vote. You can only vote ONCE. The system will not allow you to vote repeatedly so if you receive notice that you successfully voted, there is nothing else you need to do. You’ve voted and we thank you for your participation! Voting will be open from 10 a.m. on Sunday, August 8 to 10 a.m. Monday, August 9.

Benefits

Will I have access to EAP while on strike? – July 21, 2021

Yes.

I am on sick leave – will I still be paid? – July 7, 2021

If you are on sick leave and being paid from your sick bank, as long as you were on the leave prior to a strike commencing you are still entitled to those benefits during a strike. Any sick leave or WSIB claim occurring between now and a strike will be reviewed to ensure they meet the requirements for the leave.

What happens if I retire while we are on strike? – July 7, 2021

If you are planning on retiring shortly after July 24, 2021 – please contact a member of the Executive immediately. You must have ‘active benefits’ when you retire from the Region, if we are on strike and you do not have active benefits you will not receive benefits for the duration of your retirement to age 65.

If I am on medical or maternity leave, what happens during a strike? Am I still paid by the Region? – June 22, 2021

Since each member’s situation will be unique, we are advising you to follow up with HR directly at this time.

What happens to my pension during a strike or lockout? – June 17, 2021

Neither you nor the employer pays into the pension plan during a strike or lockout. However, your membership in the plan continues and you don’t lose any entitlement you had earned up to the date the strike/lockout began.

Will I be able to buy back the pension credits I lose during a strike or lockout? – June 17, 2021

Yes. OMERS will send each eligible member the cost, payment options and timelines for buying back lost pension credit. OMERS will need to have your current home address in order to send this information so please ensure it is updated on your MyOMERS account.

Will a strike or lockout affect my early retirement dates? – June 17, 2021

Your early retirement date may be delayed if you don’t buy back the pension credits you lost during a strike or lockout. Consult with OMERS to see the exact impact the strike has on your earliest retirement date.

Will I lose OHIP coverage if we go on strike? – June 17, 2021

No. OHIP is based on meeting residency requirements in Ontario, not on being at work. It is not administered by the Employer.

What about health benefits? – June 16, 2021

Should we be forced to take strike action, we will need to discuss with the Employer if benefits will be continued. There are a few options on how this could play out:

  • The Employer continues to pay premiums and members continue to have seamless benefit coverage.
  • The Employer refuses to pay its share of premiums, CUPE National will pay group life insurance and extended health benefit premiums beginning on the first day of a strike or lockout.
  • If the Employer refuses to allow CUPE to pay premiums, the National Strike Fund can cover emergency dental work and medications.

What happens to members on [WSIB, EI, LTD]? – June 16, 2021

The member is not being paid by the Employer and coverage should not be disrupted.

What if I am on maternity or parental leave? – June 16, 2021

You will continue to receive your benefits paid through Employment Insurance.

Financial Assistance

Will the Union pay for daycare while on the picket line? – June 29, 2021

There may be alternative duties you can do from home due to needing childcare/family status accommodation. Please reach out to your.union@cupe1883.ca to discuss further.

Is there support for mileage/gas and parking or can I be scheduled for double shifts so travel/costs are lower? – June 29, 2021

If we are on strike and you are experiencing financial difficulty as it relates to mileage/gas, please reach out to the Membership Assistance Committee. Members will be scheduled for a 4 hour shift per day. This is as recommended by CUPE.

What about parking costs during the strike duty shifts, are they being covered by union? – June 29, 2021

The Union is not covering parking costs. We will attempt to share free/low cost parking near picket locations.

Are we still permitted to use our parking passes i.e. at Waterloo parkade when on strike duty? – June 29, 2021

The parking passes issued by the Region of Waterloo are for work related purposes only.

What about my [financial obligation: mortgage, rent, credit cards, car payment, loans, child support, etc]? – June 16, 2021

We will be sending a letter to local financial institutions to let them know of the possibility of strike action. Most financial institutions will help you put together a plan to deal with your situation in the event of a strike which may include allowing you to reduce payments, paying interest only charges, etc. We also have established a membership assistance committee to which exceptional circumstances can be directed.

Am I eligible for Employment Insurance while on strike? – June 16, 2021

No.

Picket Duty

I am scheduled to work on Saturday. Do I report to work? – July 22, 2021

If we are on strike as of 12:01 am on Saturday, July 24, you will not report to work. Picket duty will begin on Monday.

What happens if I cross the picket line? – July 20, 2021

Should you cross the picket line, you are giving the employer ‘scab labour’. All members who we become aware of will be brought forward on CUPE charges. The CUPE Constitution has a CUPE Trial procedure where members can be brought up on CUPE charges which could include significant monetary fines, revocation of CUPE membership, amongst other redress.

The CUPE Constitution speaks to this in Appendix F, F1 (l) where it states that any member who
“fails to respect the Local Union’s picket line, works for the employer during a legal strike or labour dispute or engages in any strike-breaking activity” is guilty of an offence.

Crossing the picket line deteriorates the relationship between union members, it undermines the efforts of the union who bargain your working conditions, wages, benefits amongst many other things, and could lead to a lengthier strike. 

We understand that the decrease in income is concerning. There has been a Membership Assistance Committee created who will respond to urgent needs including requests for groceries, utility disconnections, and other financial emergencies

Do all members need to be on the picket line? – June 29, 2021

If you have the need for an accommodation and are unable to picket for any reason, please reach out to your.union@cupe1883.ca. The Administration Committee will be scheduling all members for picket duty unless otherwise requested.

Am I allowed to bring my children/pet(s) with me? – June 25, 2021

No. Due to our concern for your family and pets and COVID gathering restrictions, you will not be allowed to bring them while you are on picket duty.

What happens if I’m sick? – June 25, 2021

We will handle each situation on an individual case by case basis, provided you have proper

Documentation.

Is there flexibility with the strike rotation if I have a medical appointment? Can we do full shifts when picketing? – June 22, 2021

The Administration Committee is responsible for scheduling members to picket locations as well as times. There will be an opportunity for members to identify their preference of morning or afternoon as well as any restrictions. It is not recommended to do full shifts as it can be very emotionally taxing being on the picket line for 8 full hours and as such, members will be scheduled for half day shifts. If there are extenuating circumstances, please reach out to your.union@cupe1883.ca to discuss further.

What are the consequences to not participating in strike activity / picketing aside from not getting paid? – June 22, 2021

If you choose to not participate in strike action and/or participate, it is very likely that the strike will continue longer as the strength and solidarity of the membership would not be there. Furthermore, if you cross the picket line (even virtually/working from home) and are considered to “fail to respect the Local Union’s picket line, works for the employer during a legal strike or labour dispute or engages in any strike-breaking activity” as described in the CUPE Constitution, you can be brought up on charges before the CUPE Trial Panel under the CUPE Constitution. The allegations will be reviewed and you may be subject to a series of outcomes including, but not limited to, reprimand, a monetary fine, suspension/expulsion from membership, a ban against holding membership or office, or any order that the Trial Committee finds appropriate.

We are only as strong as the collective of membership. There is strength in numbers.

What does “being on strike” actually mean? – June 16, 2021

“Being on strike “ means members who are a part of CUPE 1883 withdraw their labour power. This means that no employment-related duties are completed.

What if we can’t picket due to COVID restrictions? – June 16, 2021

We will be liaising with our local Police service and are monitoring the changes to restrictions of gathering to prepare as well as picketing.

What do I need to know about picketing? – June 16, 2021

A picket line shift will typically be four hours long. There will be two shifts a day. Please arrive 5-10 minutes prior to your scheduled start time to ensure you are able to check in with the picket captain at your location.

What if I can’t picket due to [accommodation concern]? – June 16, 2021

If you have a concern that you are not physically able to picket, please reach out to your.union@cupe1883.ca – the Strike Committee – to discuss options. There are a variety of reasons why members may not be able to fully participate in physical picket action, and we understand that. We will accommodate by offering alternative duties including in office work, phone calls, admin work, etc. Any reason for an accommodation will be treated with the utmost sensitivity and confidentiality will be respected.

What is a lockout? – June 16, 2021

The Employer has the legal right to “lockout” its workers during the negotiation process if they follow the appropriate timelines set out by the Ontario Labour Relations Act.

What do I need to know about a picket line? – June 16, 2021

The most important thing about a picket is the safety of picketers and this is everyone’s responsibility. Be alert, look out for one another and do not put yourself or others in a dangerous situation.

Each picket line will have Picket Captains, who are in charge of safety on the line. All picketers are encouraged to work collectively with their line’s Picket Captains to ensure the safe and effective operation of the picket line.

Your safety and well-being are the most important things in this strike. If there are things we can do to help facilitate your safety and well-being, please let your picket captain know. They will communicate that information to the Strike Committee.

Strike Pay

Where can I find out more about the CUPE National Strike Fund Regulations? – June 29, 2021

They can be found at this link.

What if members do not “withdraw their labour”? We’re working from home, how would you know? – June 16, 2021

Strikebreaking, or scabbing, is not only unconscionable and morally reprehensible, it is a violation of the CUPE National Constitution and as such, carries hefty penalties. The Negotiations Committee encourages all members who have chosen to continue to work during a work stoppage to reconsider that decision and stop work immediately. Those discovered to be strikebreaking will be subject to CUPE trial proceedings which include, but are not limited to, suspension or revocation of membership and severe fines. The Local will enforce any monetary penalties by action in court as necessary. The Negotiations Committee encourages members and allies to report any provable instances of strikebreaking to the Committee for confirmation, disruption and appropriate punitive action if need be. The strength of a strike and picket line often determines the length and outcome of job action; more people who participate in job action can lead to a shorter strike.

What are strike duties?

Strike duties are paid work that members engage in for the duration of a strike including picketing, administration tasks, serving on a strike committee, etc.

How much will I be paid? – June 16, 2021

Strike pay is $15/hour and can be done up to 20 hours per week. The Local has committed to a top up contingency plan as well from our own funds.

Vacation

If we have vacation booked during the strike and don’t take it, do we keep our vacation allotment? – June 22, 2021

Your vacation is earned over the year despite being given to you upfront. Should we be forced on strike and it is lengthy, you may have a prorated amount of vacation for 2021.

Can the strike be pushed out to end of August / September to accommodate planned vacations? – June 22, 2021

Quite simply put, no.

The lengthy answer: as discussed at our last General Membership Meeting, we are coordinating with CUPE 5191. We believe there is power in numbers and strength in a collective solidarity.  There is never a “good time” to strike, and ultimately a strike is a last resort. No matter the time of year, there will be inconveniences for various reasons for members. We originally gave notice to bargain in May 2020. We have been without a contract for almost 12 months. We are ready and prepared to continue bargaining, but need the Employer to feel the same way.  There are legislated timelines associated with conciliation, should we move to filing a no board report (once issued, it starts the 17 day cooling off period/countdown to strike/lockout) – it is the next ‘natural’ step in the process.

What happens to my holidays? – June 16, 2021

The Union cannot speak to how pre-booked vacation time will be handled by departments and HR in the event of a strike. Please direct inquiries to HR. There are a few options, however we do not know how the employer will proceed. If you choose to continue with vacation while on strike and are unable to participate in strike duties, you will not receive strike pay or top up.

Updates/Miscellaneous

If I am a permanent 1883 member in a temporary management role, what happens? – July 7, 2021

You will be released from your management contract and returned to the bargaining unit.

How will I know if there’s a strike? – June 25, 2021

There will be a press release issued immediately. Listen to the local Kitchener-Waterloo radio, print media and television stations. There will also be information on Facebook and our website. We will also send an email on our listserve to your personal e-mail address.

How much notice will we get before we go on strike? – June 22, 2021

Should the Local file a no board report ((once issued, it starts the 17 day cooling off period/countdown to strike/lockout), we will notify the membership that it has been done. We will also notify the membership when it is issued by the Ministry of Labour (3-5 business days after filing the no board report). Once the no board report is filed, it is 17 days to a strike/lock out.

Haven’t you only met once with the conciliator? Why are we considering job action so soon? – June 17, 2021

We have met once with the conciliator and once without the conciliator (June 8 and 14). It is clear to the Committee the Employer is not willing to move on many items that have significant and detrimental impacts to our membership.

It’s important to remember that at this point, we have not had any monetary discussions. It is solely on work/life balance, mental health of our members, job security, retention, and fairness in the workplace which we have identified as priorities to the Employer.

Are we going on strike? – June 16, 2021

CUPE 1883 members voted in favour 90% of job action up to and including a strike. We have continued to negotiate following the strike vote in hopes of reaching a settlement including a date with a Conciliator from the Ministry of Labour. There are still significant issues outstanding surrounding work/life balance, job security, and layoff provisions. We have not yet filed a No Board report, which is a formal procedural step that opens a 17-day period, once issued, for possible strike action.

What should I do if I’m asked to speak to the media? – June 16, 2021

Please direct them to your picket captain if you are on the picket line, or contact a member of the executive.

How long will a strike last? – June 16, 2021

For as long as it takes to obtain a fair and equitable collective agreement.

Is there another vote to go on strike? – June 16, 2021

Under the Ontario Labour Relations Act, there is only one “strike vote” (which is commonly called a “strike mandate vote”).  The strike vote/strike mandate vote asks you to give your elected bargaining team permission to call a strike in the event that the Parties reach an impasse at the bargaining table.  There is no “second” vote or additional vote required (or recognized by law) to call a strike.  Our vote was held virtually over May 1 and 2, 2021 and resulted in a 90% strike mandate