Strike FAQ

Members of CUPE 3903 join the picket line at the Main Gate of York University.

Members of CUPE 3903 join the picket line at the Main Gate of York University in 2015.

If you have any questions please email

What does ‘being on strike’ actually mean in the context of a university?

“Being on strike” means we withdraw our labour power. That means that we don’t perform our employment-related duties (including teaching, grading, answering student emails, employment-mandated research, etc.). It also means fulfilling our strike duties.

What if members are not withdrawing their labour?

The Executive has become aware of reports of members who have chosen to violate their responsibilities to the local, and betray their colleagues on strike, by choosing to return to work during the strike. Strikebreaking, or scabbing, is not only unconscionable and morally reprehensible, it is a violation of the CUPE Constitution, and as such carries penalties. The Executive encourages all members who have chosen to return to work to reconsider that decision and stop work immediately. Those discovered to be strikebreaking will be subject to CUPE trial, and will face the strongest possible penalties allowed under the CUPE Constitution: suspension or revocation of membership, and severe fines. The Local will enforce any monetary penalties by action in court, should that become necessary. The Executive encourages members and allies to report any provable instances of strikebreaking to the Executive for confirmation, disruption, and appropriate punitive action at CUPE trial.
If you have documented evidence of strikebreaking, or if you want to help combat scabbing please contact or the Recording Secretary for further information.

What are Strike Duties? How much do they pay? What if I can’t picket?

Strike Duties are paid work that members engage in for the duration of a strike. Most members are expected to engage in picket duties for up to 20 hours per week (normally a four-hour shift, five days a week) in order to receive strike pay. Strike pay is $15 per hour. Find out the full details about strike pay (such as sign-up requirements & daily sign-in procedures) here.

For some members, Alternative Duties (also known as “8th Line Duties”) may be required to accommodate grounds covered by the Ontario Human Rights Code. Please see the sign-up procedure for Alternative Duties / 8th Line on this page. Other requests for accommodations will go through Strike Committee. There are a variety of reasons why members may not be able to fully participate in a physical picket or participate at all. These can include mobility issues, physical or mental health reasons, caregiver/parent responsibilities and distance from campus. Please begin the process on the page above as soon as possible if accommodations are required.

What happens on Monday, March 5? What do I do? Where do I go?

In the event of a strike beginning Monday, March 5, we are asking all CUPE 3903 members and our allies to attend a rally and mass picket on York Boulevard (the main entrance to Keele campus from Keele Street) from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Where is my department’s picket line (starting March 6)? Is there anyway I can communicate with other members on my picket line?

Check out our list of departmental picket locations. And remember, the longer the picket line, the shorter the strike! We need to show the admin that we’re united and mobilized. That’s the only way we will get a fair contract.

Every picket line is made up of multiple departments and programs. We suggest that each line attempt to create a way to communicate amongst themselves and share that with members in their individual department and program. We will update the Picket Lines page above as picket lines self-organize communication amongst themselves (via email or social media), as this becomes available.

What do I need to know about picketing?

A picket line shift is four hours long. There will be two shifts per day, a morning shift (7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.) and an afternoon shift (11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.). Please arrive before your scheduled start time and dress appropriately for the weather conditions. For a full FAQ on Picketing, please click here.

What if I need to perform strike duties other than picketing?

Generally speaking, there are three reasons that you could have the need for alternate duties. You could have a mobility issue, you could have reasons pertaining to physical or mental health, or you are a caregiver/parent and unable to afford or secure adequate and predictable childcare or elder care. Alternate duties tasks, from both strike headquarters or from your home, are being determined as per need. These duties will be crucial to the success of the strike and we need your help. Please follow the procedure outlined here in order to request 8th Line duties: CUPE 3903 Strike Duties Accommodation Procedure.

What about our health benefits?

Our health benefits coverage will continue during the strike.

Can I communicate with my students during a strike?

CUPE 3903 members should not be teaching during a strike, but members can provide strike information and updates to students. It may be quite useful to keep those lines of communication open. As a union, we will try to keep students informed via our website, social media and our strike headquarters.

Can I come on campus to do my lab research?

Yes. If you have ongoing lab work that needs to be taken care of daily you should most certainly attend to this work. Keep in mind, however, that some of your lab work might be employment related work and should be withdrawn in the context of a strike. If, for instance, you do work for your supervisor that doesn’t contribute to the completion of your own thesis work, it is covered by the Collective Agreement and you should make arrangements with your supervisor to hold off on this work until any labour action is resolved.

What about my placement or practicum?

If you have a placement or practicum associated with your program (such as Social Work) that is not related to your employment at York, you can continue with this work. However, if your placement is supervised by a member of contract faculty, it will be cancelled. If your placement makes it difficult for you to complete 20 hours of strike duty per week, then you will qualify for prorated strike pay for the strike duty you can complete.

Can I use the library?

In the event of a strike, the Local would encourage members to use University facilities as little as possible. If members absolutely must access the library, however, they should feel free to do so, as refusing to use the library has no impact on York’s finances.

Will I be charged library fines?

No. While overdue notices will continue to be issued by email during the strike, no fines will accrue on any material.

Can I access YFS services?

Yes. The York Federation of Students (YFS) provides a range of services that its 53,000 members rely on. During the strike, the unionized staff members of the YFS (represented by CUPE 1281) are not crossing picket lines. Only four basic services are being provided by a skeletal staff led by management: the YFS Access Centre (the student-run disability centre), the YFS Food Bank, the YFS Members’ Services Office (which distributes TTC tokens and passes), and the YFS Printing Resource Centre. YFS members should feel free to access these services.