Strike and Lockout FAQs
Posted on 10/13/2023
Updated on 11/27/2023
- What is a “strike”?
- What is a “strike mandate”?
- What is a “lockout”?
- What is “strike pay”? Who gets it?
- Will I continue to receive benefits during a strike or a lockout?
- Will I continue to receive my salary if I'm on an approved vacation during a strike or lockout?
- Can I get another job during a strike or lockout?
- My team was considered “essential” during the pandemic. Does that mean we are exempt from striking?
- What can I do to be financially prepared for a strike?
- What’s the best way to avoid a strike or lockout?
- Questions regarding strike logistics including: picket line protocols, location, duration, accommodating restrictions, safety, weather protocols, etc.?
- Can my employer discipline me for not crossing the line?
Recording - When the Paycheque Stops: Strikes and Lockouts (November 14, 2023)
1. What is a “strike”?
A strike is a work stoppage that happens when a group of workers withdraw their labour, usually to pressure their Employer to agree to their demands. In Alberta, most unionized workers have a legal right to strike. Some essential workers like firefighters and police officers are not allowed to go on strike. Those essential workers settle a bargaining impasse using arbitration. All five CSU 52 bargaining units do not have that option. If we reach a bargaining impasse, then we go to mediation. Mediation is not final, either side can withdraw or walk away from mediation. If mediation fails, following a 14-day “cooling-off period” the Union can hold a strike vote under the supervision of the Alberta Labour Relations Board or the Employer can lock employees out.
2. What is a “strike mandate”?
A strike mandate is reached after holding a strike vote and when the results are more than 50% of those who voted agree to strike. Negotiations committees sometimes ask for a strike mandate to use as a tactic to pressure the Employer to get back to the bargaining table and negotiate. Just because a negotiations committee has received a strike mandate does not mean that the bargaining unit will be going on strike. Sometimes a strike mandate is enough to pressure the Employer.
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3. What is a “lockout”?
A lockout is the Employer’s pressure tactic against a union to accept a deal by blocking them from their worksites and cutting them off from their pay. Employers can apply for a lockout after the 14-day cooling-off period. Strikes are our weapon, lockouts are theirs. The best way to defend against a lockout is to be prepared to strike.
4. What is “strike pay”? Who gets it?
Every member of CSU 52, regardless of their classification, receives the same amount of strike pay. A CSU 52 member on strike or is locked out will receive $80 for spending 7 hours on a picket line (or $40 for 3.5 hours). For example, if a strike were to last 5 days, and a CSU 52 member spends 35 hours on the strike line during the 5 days, they would receive $400 for the week. The maximum strike pay a member can receive in a week is $400. It’s important to note that strike pay is not taxed. There’s no CPP or EI deducted from strike pay.
5. Will I continue to receive benefits during a strike or a lockout?
Long Term Disability will continue to be covered since it’s paid for by the bargaining units' members. However, most likely, the Employer will discontinue medical, dental, and short-term disability benefit coverage. The Union may approach the Employer to request to pay benefits coverage during a strike or lockout, but the Employer is within their right to refuse. Contributions to the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LPP) are also discontinued during a work stoppage. However, an employee is eligible to buy back (paying both the employee and employer portions) their pension once the work stoppage is over.
Parental leave top-up is paid by the Employer, therefore it would be discontinued during a work stoppage.
6. Will I continue to receive my salary if I'm on an approved vacation during a strike or lockout?
If a work stoppage happens while a member is on vacation, they will no longer be considered as being on vacation – they would be on strike or locked out. That means that they will not be getting paid while they’re off. That also means they will not lose the vacation accrued in their vacation bank. It will remain in the bank for future use when back to work.
If the strike or lockout ends while they’re away, their vacation time would be reinstated for the remainder of the vacation.
7. Can I get another job during a strike or lockout?
Yes, you can. There's nothing preventing members from seeking other employment during a work stoppage.
8. My team was considered “essential” during the pandemic. Does that mean we are exempt from striking?
Essential Services legislation determines which bargaining units fall under the legislation. Whether you worked from home or the office during the pandemic is irrelevant to the legislation. All five CSU 52 bargaining units do NOT fall under Essential Services legislation. That means no group of employees inside the bargaining unit is exempt. CSU 52 is considering only exempting members who work in DATS at the City of Edmonton from striking. However, all other teams including payroll, IT, and Emergency Communications Officers are currently NOT exempt from striking.
9. What can I do to be financially prepared for a strike?
The best way to financially prepare for a strike is to start saving some money aside. We know that the cost of living has been rising making saving harder. From every paycheck, save what you can. The month of October 2023 has 3 pay days for the City of Edmonton and Edmonton Public Library bargaining units, so we recommend you save as much as you can in this month. If you have a mortgage or a loan, reach out to the financial institution and ask them if they have a policy for deferring payments during a strike or lockout. Most banks will either have one or will be willing to accommodate you.
10. What’s the best way to avoid a strike or lockout?
A strike or lockout disrupts the lives of everyone – workers and employers alike. But when we’re organized, workers stand to benefit from the disruption. The best way to avoid a strike is to be prepared for one. Members can support each other by talking to their coworkers, updating their contact lists, recruiting leaders on their worksites, and staying informed via Union emails and any special meetings held for bargaining.
11. Questions regarding strike logistics including: picket line protocols, location, duration, accommodating restrictions, safety, weather protocols, etc.?
CSU 52 is creating a Strike Committee made up of City of Edmonton and Edmonton Public Library members. The committee will be tasked with making decisions on logistical questions regarding the picket line including creating protocols for behaviours, safety, contingency, and key messages during a strike or lockout. If you’re interested in putting your name forward to the committee, please email [email protected]
12. Can my employer discipline me for not crossing the line?
The employer can go to the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) and apply for an injunction. ALRB can then order you back to work forcing you to cross the picket line. Once the injunction has been granted, you can be disciplined if you still refuse to cross the picket line.
Recording - When the Paycheque Stops: Strikes and Lockouts
CSU 52 hosted a Zoom session with Natasha Fryzuk (United Way) for members on November 14, 2023.