Strike information regarding picket lines

HR #30, 2014-15

To:   University of Toronto Community 
From:   Angela Hildyard, Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity
Date:   February 27, 2015
Re:   Strike information regarding picket lines  

The University has been bargaining intensively with CUPE 3902 Unit 1 in order to reach a fair and reasonable renewal collective agreement. We believe that our latest offer meets those criteria. We are disappointed that while a tentative agreement unanimously approved by the Unit 1 bargaining team was reached late Thursday night, Unit 1 members who attended a meeting Friday afternoon voted not to send the agreement to the full bargaining unit membership for ratification. CUPE 3902 Unit 1 is now on strike.

It is important that all members of the University community understand the respective rights and obligations of the parties during a lawful strike.

For those employees on strike, picketing for the purpose of communicating information is lawful, provided it is peaceful, conducted on public property and does not restrict or prevent entry to, or exit from the University’s premises. Picketers do not have the right to stop or delay vehicles and pamphlet them. Nevertheless, people may encounter delays in crossing a picket line. If you are in a vehicle, approach the line prudently. If it is necessary to stop, we recommend that you treat the picketers in a civil manner and advise them that you are aware of the dispute. It is a person’s choice whether to accept the information notices offered.

The University will not permit any picketing inside buildings or on other University private property.

Please take the time to familiarize yourself with the following information on picket line protocol:

In a Labour Dispute, Picketers are Legally Permitted to:

  • Carry signs stating the nature of the dispute.
  • Speak to you about their concerns.
  • Ask you to join the picket line, but cannot force you to do so. Please note that all non-CUPE 3902 Unit 1 employees are expected to report to work as usual.
  • Picketers are supposed to keep moving and allow passage, though there may be delays.

How to Approach a Picket Line:

  • Approach the line slowly. If you are operating a vehicle, plan your approach to the University so that you will be making a right turn into the campus. This will avoid being caught in the middle of an intersection in case of delays.
  • Whether driving, walking or biking onto campus, be prepared to stop. Be prepared to wait until you can safely pass through the picket line. Be prepared for delays. Remember to operate your vehicle in a safe and lawful fashion.

You may find the following suggestions useful:

  • Roll down your vehicle window or otherwise indicate your willingness to communicate with the picketers.
  • Explain politely that you are exercising your legal right to attend classes or your obligation to report to work, or to conduct business on campus.
  • Display patience and try to remain calm.
  • The picketers may provide you with information and wish to discuss the issues with you. If you are either unable or unwilling to engage them, please consider using the following response: “I’d like to exercise my right to come to work or to attend classes. Please let me cross the picket line.”
  • If you are not allowed through the picket line, or if you feel threatened, do not attempt to force your way in. Do not become involved in any arguments or type of altercation. If necessary, please contact your department manager or supervisor.