Someone else’s strike does not change your obligations.
Your employment rights and obligations under your collective agreement do not change during a job action by a sister union. Unless you are in a lawful strike position, your collective agreement requires you to report to work and do your job. If your employer shuts down because of a strike, you retain your rights. If your employer decides to close all or part of the workplace because of another bargaining unit’s job action, you will be advised. You retain your rights to wages and benefits under your collective agreement. If you are not told the workplace is closed, you must report to work as scheduled.
What about picket lines?
A striking union will probably set up picket lines to communicate with others. You should respect their picket lines, take leaflets, and listen to their information. Outside your working hours, you are encouraged to join the picket lines or engage in other acts of solidarity. If you have ever been on strike, you know how much this is appreciated.
How about access to work?
Delays often occur at picket lines. Access may be difficult or impossible. If you feel you can’t cross a picket line safely to go to work, you should leave the area and immediately contact a supervisor for instructions. You should remain ready and available for work.
What if you are assigned work normally done by people on strike?
You should tell your supervisor that you object to performing the work of another bargaining unit. You should raise your concerns with the work assignment. You may ask your employer to reconsider and change the assignment. However, the “obey now, grieve later” rule applies. It requires you to follow your employer’s instructions or face potential discipline for insubordination. The rule does not apply if the assignment would be unsafe for you to perform, and may not apply to activities outside of working hours.
What if the strike affects how your work is done?
A job action can affect work procedures or deadlines. It may be impossible to complete tasks on schedule if striking employees’ participation is required. Priorities may change if information is not available. Contact your supervisor and ask for clear direction if you are unsure about procedures.
How can I show my support for CUPE 233 members?
In the event of a strike, OPSEU members can show their support for our fellow unions in various ways, including by respecting their picket lines, taking leaflets and listening to the information shared by the picketers, sharing messages of support on social media, donating time and talent in support of strike efforts, and joining picket lines or other solidarity actions outside of your working hours.