If there is currently no job action, TSSU’s strike policy is not in effect. When it is in effect, this policy does not determine what job action the membership engages in, nor does it set up any specific time-lines. It does ensure that all decisions made under a strike mandate are done in an open and transparent way, with the support of the membership.
Read the complete policy here.
What does it mean?
Like most other unions, the TSSU has in place a strike policy which comes into effect in the event that our membership votes positively in a strike vote. This means that once our membership has participated in a strike vote, and if this vote passes, a certain procedure will be activated. This policy does not determine what job action the membership engages in, nor does it set up any specific time-lines. It ensures that all decisions made under a strike mandate are done in an open and transparent way, with the support of the membership.
How does it work?
First, a Special General Membership meeting (SGM) will be called at which a Strike Committee will be constituted. This committee will be responsible for the day-to-day decisions of any job action the membership pursues, as well as coordinating and organizing those actions, and reporting this to the membership.
This policy also ensures that student work and residences will not be directly affected during job action. Any TSSU job action would be targeted to the work we do as workers, and not as students. This policy entrenches this principle, and ensures our membership will be able to continue their studies in the event of any job action.
Finally, the strike policy sets up strike pay (or picket pay) in the event of work stoppage or a picket line. This money is only paid to members engaged in work to support the strike and who are not being paid because we have engaged in action involving full work stoppage.
Please further note that it is TSSU Policy that the Union will not go to a full work-stoppage (“picket line”) without having taken a vote of the membership. An early, strong show of support during job action will encourage the University to act equitably and help to increase the chances that such an action will not be necessary.
Where can I read it
The strike policy is contained as an appendix to our Bylaws and Policies, which are available on the main tssu.ca website here. Topics covered in the Strike Policy include:
- How TSSU views the relationship between our role as teaching staff (be they TAs, TMs, ELC-ITP or Sessional Instructors) and graduate students (Sections IV & V)
- How decisions are made about the forms of job action (Section VII)
- How and under what conditions strike pay is issued (Section VIII)
- The consequences of endeavoring to defeat or subvert the membership’s efforts by doing “struck” work (“scabbing”) (Section IV)
Who can I contact if I have questions?
You can contact the Trustees at trustees(at)tssu.ca or email the TSSU office at tssu(at)tssu.ca. You can also call the TSSU office at (778)-782-4735 or the helpline cell phone at (604)-652-6202.
Section I: Definitions
For the reference of the reader, offers some definitions and clarifications of important terms without limit, and examples of “struck work” are given in the event of a full picket line.
Section II states that where two bits of language are directly at odds, the language in the Strike Policy takes precedent, and that one or more flaws in either does not invalidate the whole.
Housekeeping: Under the ~1999 bylaws, there was a requirement that the Union meet with Administration beforehand, before calling a strike. As the Union already had to meet with the Employer to set Essential Service Levels thanks to changes in legislation, the point was moot and this was repealed.
“The TSSU does not wish to negatively affect the ability of its members to perform their work as students. No member of the TSSU shall be – by virtue of job action – barred from participating in work required of them as students.” In other words, please note that even in the event of a picket-line with full work-stoppage, you are free to do everything you could normally do as a student – take tests, do research, write term papers, defend your thesis, do lab work, attend classes, etc. You are furthermore free to access University resources to do so. (Please note that you must make it clear to a picket captain on duty that you are crossing the line as a student.) Remember: the Union is concerned about your treatment as a member and as a teacher; the GSS advocates for you as a student.
This states that if you live on campus, you are obviously permitted to cross picket lines to access your residence.
Section VI states that no one shall continue to do struck work once the work has been struck (forbidden), that they shall not assist the University in finding people to do the work, and that they shall not do another’s struck work if ordered to do so.
This section lays out the Job Action or Strike Committee, which is the elected body that determines when job action is to happen and what job action is to happen. Remember, you are free to attend their meetings and give your opinion! It also requires the Job Action Committee to maintain transparency with the General Membership by requiring them to report to the General Membership Committee.
This section covers Strike Pay – that is, pay given to members who are active with the Union during a time when our salaries are not paid owing to a full-work stoppage. Members who work 6-12 hours per week with the Union during a full work stoppage are eligible for $75, and $50 for over 12 hours/week, plus up to $35 a week is available if they have dependent minors. Please note that Strike Pay is not a substitute for wages; it is legally tax-free precisely because of that fact. Strike Pay is the Union’s way of supporting those actively working to help end the strike.
The ninth section is the structure of penalties for those members and members of the bargaining unit who subvert the actions of the Union and their fellow members by performing struck work. The fine, assessed by the Union upon completion of the Strike, is 100% of the gross wages paid to the individual who worked during the period of struck work, plus an additional fine of $500. It also holds that officers of the Union who perform struck work shall lose their stipends. This section also empowers members by giving them a plausible and convincing reason to give to staff who may attempt to pressure them to perform such work.
The tenth section sets out the process by which someone assessed a fine may appeal the decision. It ensures that all appeals will be conducted quickly and fairly by a committee elected through the same mechanisms as the Strike Committee with replacements subject to the GM’s approval.
Section XI states that 95% of the money in the Strike Fund is reserved solely for Strike Pay, not expenses related to strikes which must otherwise come out of pre-existing committee budgets.
Please feel free to e-mail the TSSU with any question you might have!