- What is a strike?A strike is a collective withdrawal of services or stoppage of work generally used to apply pressure on an employer to agree to terms and conditions of employment. Unit 1 OPSEU 677 Members will cease to perform all work considered part of their normal duties and responsibilities at NOSM University including work performed online. While this is undoubtedly difficult for Members, it is critical that all Members withdraw services to ensure the effectiveness of job action and the fastest possible conclusion of a collective agreement. Therefore, Members are expected to withdraw services in all domains of work. Examples of services to be withheld include, but are not limited to:
- Graduate and undergraduate teaching at all campuses and via all modes of delivery (holding classes off-campus or asking graduate students to teach are considered strike-breaking)
- Clinical supervision and teaching
- Routine advising of students and non-student learners
- Teaching-related or professional consultation with students and learners by telephone, email, or via other modes of communication
- Supervision and assessment of graduate proposals, theses, and projects
- Supervision of student or learner internships or practica
- All professional services (e.g. Librarian Members and Professional Staff Members)
- Clinical work if and as performed as part of NOSM University employment
- Participation in any and all NOSM University committees and in non-NOSM committees where the Member is representing NOSM University
- All research or scholarly activities (other than required animal care and specifically exempted duties relating to sensitive experiments, as governed by the strike protocol to be negotiated)
- Attendance at scholarly conferences
- Maintenance of electronic systems used for teaching or other NOSM University functions
- When do we go on strike?
Seventeen days after the conciliator issues a no-board report the Union is free to strike and the Employer to lock-out. Both are strikes within the Ontario Labour Relations Act. Usually, a deadline is issued as part of the negotiating process by the Union’s Negotiating Team for the strike in order to facilitate a successful conclusion of on-going negotiations.
- What is a lockout?
A lockout occurs when the Employer denies employees access to the workplace and stops paying them in order to exert pressure on the union and its members to settle on the Employer’s terms.
Being “locked out” means the Employer has decided to stop negotiating and cancel classes, which would also result in picketing.
- How will I be notified if we go on strike?
Members will be notified by the Unit 1 Negotiating via an email to the non-NOSM private email you have supplied to [email protected]. If you have not sent that email please do so. Please also include the cell number at which you can be reached for texts and calls if you have a cell phone.
- What are conciliation and mediation, and how do they relate to the labour negotiation process?
Conciliation and mediation are ways for a third party to help with negotiations and to identify the terms of a possible settlement.
Conciliation is required by the Labour Relations Act before a strike / lockout position becomes legal. A conciliator is a government-appointed third party that assists the two sides in clarifying their positions to each other. Mediation is not legally required, but is available if the two sides voluntarily agree.
A mediator (often the same person as the conciliator) takes a more active role in negotiations, suggesting possible ways to settle the issues in dispute. However, neither a conciliator nor a mediator has the power to impose a settlement. Both conciliation and mediation are phases in the overall negotiations process.
- What about Arbitration?
As outlined in our prior Bulletins, interest-based Arbitration of any unresolved issues between the Parties can occur but only if both Parties agree to it. In such cases there is no ratification process by Members and the decision of the Arbitrator is final. Arbitrators take a number of factors into consideration including the principle of replication.
The replication principle follows the proposition that since interest arbitration is a substitute for free collective bargaining, the award of an arbitration board should replicate the agreement the parties would have made if they had reached an agreement through free collective bargaining.
Replication focuses on objective standards rather than notions of “fairness” or “what is just.” Often the best evidence arbitrators will consider is comparative data of agreements reached by the same or a similar Employer with similar classifications of workers. For example, if the arbitration board was considering a dispute over what a hospital should pay its nurses, the freely negotiated rates of pay for nurses at a similar hospital in the same jurisdiction could be compelling evidence for the Arbitration Board.
- Will I be paid during the strike?
If a strike is called and picket lines are set up, the Employer will no longer pay us. Strike pay is distributed to striking Unit 1 members who participate in 20 hours of strike duties per week during the strike.
To receive strike pay, you must first be a signed up member of the Union by completing an application form, and you must be registered on the OPSEU/SEFPO membership portal and provide your direct deposit information. You will receive the necessary forms soon.
- How much strike pay do I receive?
Strike pay is provided from two sources: OPSEU/SEFPO and CAUT/ACPU. Strike pay is NOT taxed.
OPSEU/SEFPO Strike Pay
Weeks 1-3 Daily Maximum Weeks 1-3 Weekly Maximum Weeks 4+Daily Maximum Weeks 4+ Weekly Maximum Member $40 $200 $60 $300 Each Dependent $10 $50 $10 $50
The CAUT Defense Fund Daily Benefit is $96 per calendar day per member ($672 per week).
Single Member Weeks 1-3: $872/week
Member with 2 Dependents Weeks 1-3: $972/week
Single Member Weeks 4+: $972/week
Member with 2 Dependents Weeks 4+: $1072/week
- How will I receive strike pay?
Members who perform a minimum of four or more hours of strike duties per day, or a minimum of 20 or more hours per week, are eligible for strike pay.
Strike pay will be distributed through direct deposit on a weekly basis. You will receive two deposits: one from OPSEU/SEFPO (OPSEU/SEFPO strike pay) and one from a designated Unit 1 Strike Account (CAUT Defense Fund Daily Benefit). CAUT funding begins on the fourth day of the strike.
To receive strike pay from OPSEU/SEFPO, you must first be a signed up member of the Union by completing the online application form, and you must register on the OPSEU/SEFPO membership portal and provide your direct deposit information.
If you are not signed up as a member, you can sign up using the online application form here: https://hub03.opseu.org/Forms/emaweb.
Register on the membership portal here: https://members.opseu.org/default.aspx.
The Union will need the same direct deposit information to process your CAUT Daily Benefit and will contact you to ask for that information and authorization.
- Will I receive health benefits during the strike?
Yes, members will retain access to all normal health benefits during the strike. The Union will need to reimburse the Employer for any health benefit costs during the strike. This is being negotiated in the strike protocol.
- Am I free to accept work with other Employers, including Lakehead and Laurentian Universities (e.g. teaching including graduate supervision)?
Yes, this is fine except that should the work interfere with strike duties, strike pay for duties unperformed would in fairness to others (who have performed all their strike duties) have to be withheld. It may be possible to arrange for swapping depending on the circumstances.
- I have concerns about fulfilling my financial obligations during a strike. What assistance is being offered to members who need additional support?
We will be establishing a Hardship Fund to which Members can apply for assistance. Grants and loans will be provided on the basis of need. Please contact the Job Action Committee to find out how you apply.
We also recommended that you contact your financial institutions as soon as possible to explain the situation and discuss payment options during a strike or lockout. They may offer support, services, or options to assist during this time.
Mortgage lenders will generally approve alternative payment schedules in case of strike or lockout, as will some credit-card companies and landlords. Upon request, Unit 1, OPSEU 677 will provide letters to Members as proof of strike or lockout.
- Where and when do I picket/perform strike duties?
A strike support questionnaire will be distributed to all Members in advance of any strike action where you will be able to communicate your scheduling availability for picketing and rank your preferred methods of participation.
The Strike Committee will establish “strike duties” which include scheduling. Members who perform a minimum of four or more hours of strike duties per day, or a minimum of 20 or more hours per week, are eligible for strike pay. Picketing locations will be determined by the Job Action Committee in accordance with municipal guidelines. Your Picket Captain will provide you with the picketing locations.
- What safety measures are in place to ensure safety on the picket line?
Our primary concern on any picket line will be safety. Picket captains are trained and equipped to deal with any incident that may occur on the picket lines. Maintaining an orderly picket under the direction of your Picket Captain will maximize everybody’s safety.
- What options for participation are available to those who cannot picket due to a medical condition?
Members can participate in a number of activities to fulfill strike duties. This can include services like transporting food, materials, and members; clerical duties including phoning members and handling mail-outs; and other activities. A strike support questionnaire will be distributed to all Members in advance of any strike action where you will be able to communicate your scheduling availability for picketing and rank your preferred methods of participation.
- Will I have access to campus while on strike?
Members must not enter campus during a strike except for a few exceptional circumstances. The only exceptions to this will be for:
- The provision of animal and plant care in accordance with the strike protocol; and
- Any other exemption granted under the strike protocol
In cases where access to campus is granted as per the above, passes will be issued by the Job Action Committee. Members granted access to campus are expected to present their relevant pass to a picket captain upon crossing the picket line.
- Should I gather my personal belongings from my office if the conciliator issues a no-board report?
Yes. Members will be informed if a no-board report is issued by the conciliator. You will not have access to campus or your office if we go on strike or if the Employer locks us out.
- What will happen with research grants and graduate students I am supervising?
More information will be provided on this as we negotiate strike protocol with the Employer.
- What happens to members on sabbatical, long-term disability, sick and/or family leaves?
Unit 1, OPSEU 677 and the Employer will negotiate the status of Members on already approved leaves in the strike protocol. When such Members are excluded from job action, they are not to cross the picket line. It is advisable that Members on such pre-approved leaves also notify Unit 1, OPSEU 677 prior to job action as this information is not universally reported to Unit 1, OPSEU 677 by the administration.
- Will I be able to access my email?
The Employer can choose to restrict Members’ access to NOSM university email and servers while Members are on strike or locked out. For this reason and the reasons above, Members are strongly advised to take home all essential files and computers before the beginning of a strike. Members are also responsible for providing an active non-University email address to Unit 1, OPSEU 677 prior to a strike sent to [email protected]. Please also include a cell phone number if you have one. It is the responsibility of members to ensure that critical messages are received by the appropriate Unit 1, OPSEU 677 committee.
- What happens to pension contributions?
Pension contributions will not be paid by the administration (however Members should note that HOOPP permits members to buy back service for periods during which its members are on legal strike).
- What do I do if there are research grant applications due during the strike?
Research grant application deadlines (internal and external) may fall during periods of strike action. Members are expected to refrain from preparing grant applications, as from all other scholarly work; moreover, there is no guarantee that the administration will accept applications from faculty who are on strike. Members should therefore be particularly attentive to early submission of grant applications if at all possible.
With regard to internal deadlines, Unit 1, OPSEU 677 will attempt to negotiate an extension to such deadlines as part of the strike protocol.
With regard to external deadlines for which applications are channeled through the NOSM University Research office, Unit 1, OPSEU 677 will attempt to negotiate extension of deadlines and make arrangements for members to meet deadlines where possible as part of the strike protocol. However, the Administration is powerless to alter fixed external deadlines.
- What is the procedure for engaging with Unit 2 employees if Unit 1 employees are on strike?
Unit 1 Members are of course free to talk to Unit 2 Members about any matter but are asked to not discuss any work-related matter that could possibly result in the lengthening of the strike. It is likely that we will see many Unit 2 Colleagues on the picket line in support of our job action.
- Where is Strike Headquarters?
Thunder Bay: OPSEU/SEFPO Thunder Bay Regional Office and Membership Centre, 326 Memorial Avenue, Thunder Bay [Room TBD]
Sudbury: OPSEU/SEFPO Sudbury Office, 866 Newgate Avenue, Sudbury [Room TBD]
There will also be trailers and portable washroom facilities near the picket lines on each campus.
- What other supports can we expect?
We will receive regular support on our picket lines from Faculty Associations across Canada in the form of flying pickets and donations. In addition, the Sudbury and Thunder Bay and District Labour Councils and their union affiliates will send picketers. The general public and students will also join our lines on occasion and offer a range of supports such as food. The CAUT Defence Fund will provide a $2 million dollar loan in addition to the picket pay; OPSEU will pay for our benefits, OPSEU strike pay and a range of expenses related to setting up and maintaining the strike/lockout. We are of course planning music, food and drink on the line as well as washroom facilities and on-site trailers for breaks. Our strike pay, from two sources, is the highest for any Union in Canada. Communications to those on the line will be regular via picket captains.
- Who do I contact if I have other questions?