Proposed Solidarity Strike Motion & Solidarity Strike Q&A

An emergency Special General Membership Meeting has been called for Friday November 11th to discuss a motion that would give the executive the power to call a strike vote in solidarity with OSBCU members if these workers are legislated back to work by the Ford government.

The proposed motion is: 

WHEREAS the Ford government introduced Bill 28, using the notwithstanding clause to pre-empt a legal strike from OSBCU workers and enforce a collective agreement on those workers, and

WHEREAS the CUPE 3903 executive moved to call for a solidarity strike action with OSBCU workers starting 14 November, with the support of CUPE National and other Ontario unions, and

WHEREAS OSBCU and CUPE have agreed to return to work starting November 7th following the Ford government’s promise to rescind Bill 28, but that bill has not yet been rescinded, leaving it possible that OSBCU may end up on strike again. 

WHEREAS, in that case, OSBCU may end up being legislated back to work. 

WHEREAS CUPE 3903 has been the victim of back-to-work legislation several times in the past. 

WHEREAS back-to-work legislation is, like Bill 28, a violation of workers’ right to strike and a serious impediment to building working-class power in Ontario and Canada.

WHEREAS resisting back-to-work legislation would necessarily entail solidarity in order to be successful. 

BIRT if OSBCU defies back-to-work legislation, CUPE 3903 will engage in a solidarity strike until OSBCU returns to work. 

BIFRT CUPE 3903’s solidarity strike will be conditional on the following: 

  • That at least some other unions of comparable or greater size to CUPE 3903 also pass a similar motion to solidarity strike
  • That CUPE Ontario and CUPE National commit to providing strike pay for members who participate, and to cover any legal fines these members may incur. 

BIFRT CUPE 3903 call on CUPE National and Ontario to treat this as a strike with all the material support and legal defence a strike entails

BIFRT CUPE 3903 encourage CUPE National, CUPE O, and OSBCU to broaden the strike demands to include the repeal of Bill 124 and the permanent removal of the government’s ability to use back-to-work legislation on striking workers. 

BIFRT CUPE 3903 call on its sister locals to pass a similar motion. 


Solidarity Strike Q&A

You may have some questions about the implications of this motion being passed and what it means to engage in a solidarity strike, which is currently illegal in Ontario according to the Canada Labour Code and the Ontario Labour Relations Act.


Q:How will the vote happen?

The strike vote will happen using Simply Voting, which is an online elections system. The vote will happen over the span of three days to ensure that all members can participate in the vote.

Q: What will strike duties look like? Will there be an 8th line?

Strike duties will involve picketing at designated locations, including Queen’s Park. We will not be picketing at York University since this strike has not been called to apply pressure to York University as the result of a breakdown during our contract negotiations. Rather, this solidarity strike is intended to apply political pressure to the Ford government to bargain in good faith with OSBCU workers and to secure other interests of the wider working class, including 10 paid sick days.

For those members who cannot participate in regular picket duties, there will be alternative duties available (otherwise known as the 8th line). 

Q: Will I receive picket pay?

Yes, members who withdraw from their labour at York University and participate in a picket at a designated location will receive picket pay. Receiving picket pay is conditional on the member withdrawing their labour from York University.

Q: What are the consequences both from the law and from York to striking?

The potential consequences for engaging in a solidarity strike could include fines. As of November 9th, CUPE National has backed away from officially supporting a solidarity strike across locals. This means that additional mobilization work will be needed to force National into a position where leadership will financially support strikers and pay for fines so no individual member would bear any financial costs for participating in a solidarity strike.

There is also the possibility of York attempting to discipline members for participating in a solidarity strike with OSBCU workers. We cannot guarantee that members will not be disciplined by the employer, but it is important to remember that it will be difficult for York to target an individual if we commit to acting together as a union. CUPE 3903 will also provide legal support if members are disciplined by York for participating in solidarity strike action.

Q: What if someone wants to support but can’t take the risks? Will they be trialed, or can alternate duties be arranged? 

If membership votes in favour of a solidarity strike, all members are strongly encouraged to fully participate in the strike. CUPE 3903 will not discipline members who who refrain from withdrawing their labour at York University, and other forms of strike participation (e.g., participating in rallies and picketing) will also be welcomed. Note that you are only eligible for picket pay if you do withdraw your labour from York.