Why Are We Having a Strike Mandate Vote?

A silhouette of members carrying a large red banner

A silhouette of people carrying a large red banner

Why are we having a strike mandate vote?

The collective agreements for CUPE 3903 Units 1, 2, and 3 expired on August 31, 2017. Since that time, we have collected data, prepared proposals, and begun bargaining. From the very first exchange of proposals, the York University administration has set a very aggressive tone and made it clear that they expect us to accept concessions that would weaken all three contracts. In order for bargaining to be successful, we need to pressure the employer to take our proposals seriously and respect the work done by our members at York.

Having a strike vote has two effects: 1) It shows the Employer that we are serious about our proposals, and that the members are mobilizing to support them; and 2) In the process of mobilizing, it helps the members prepare for a strike – in case we actually need one.

What kind of strike mandate vote do we need?

The most effective strike mandate vote has a high turnout (the number of members who vote) and a strong strike mandate (the proportion who vote yes). If we get both a high turnout and a strong strike mandate, the employer will know that we are serious about our proposals.

A high turnout is important because it shows that a wide cross-section of the membership is engaged and mobilized about the bargaining process. A strong yes vote is also important because the union is strongest when it is united. The Employer will be much more fearful of a strike – and more likely to negotiate seriously – if they know that the vote represents a real threat, and not just a bluff.

Does a ‘yes’ vote mean that we’re going on strike?

A strong strike mandate vote does not necessarily mean we will strike, but it does indicate that we are ready to do so if necessary. However, there is an extra step in place before a strike: if the Executive Committee and Bargaining Team believe that York’s so-called “Final Offer” is not suitable, they will ask the membership to vote in favour of either strike action or a return to the bargaining table with particular demands at the “Final Offer” Special General Membership Meeting.

How do we get a strong strike mandate?

The best way to get a strong strike mandate is to involve the largest number of members possible, and to make sure everyone has access to the same information and may participate in the same discussion and debates – so that we’re confident about why we need a strike mandate vote and how it will help the bargaining process. A mobilization plan is in the works, and more information will be shared once it is available.

What happens after a successful strike mandate vote?

After a successful strike mandate vote, the Bargaining Team returns to the bargaining table empowered to negotiate a good contract for all three units. If the employer still doesn’t take bargaining seriously, we move to next steps. First both parties will have to meet with a conciliator. If no agreement can be reached, the conciliator files a “No-Board” report, which indicates to the Ministry of Labour that the parties are too far apart to reach an agreement. After the No-Board, there is a mandatory wait period of 17 days before we reach a strike or lockout position.

As explained above, once we are in a strike position, the decision to strike will be in the membership’s hands. The whole timeline gives the Bargaining team ample time to try to reach an agreement with the employer, assuming the employer is willing.