Strike and Lockout FAQs
Posted on 10/13/2023
Updated on 3/1/2024
- 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?
- Do I still pay union dues during a work stoppage?
- Since we haven't yet voted and the cooling-off period comes to an end, will the employer serve 72 hours' notice to lock us out?
- I’m temporarily in an out-of-scope position but I’m paying CSU 52 dues to keep my seniority. Do I get to vote on strike?
- (Added on 2/16/2024) I've been asked to work during my Earned Day Off (EDO) for the purpose of training for my position in preparation of a possible work stoppage. Is this allowed?
- (Added on 2/26/2024) My manager asked the Union for an extension of my temporary position and the request was denied. Why?
- (Added on 3/1/2024) What if I am unable to access my work email to vote on the COE's Proposal Vote March 4-7?
- (Added on 3/1/2024) If we go on strike, will we still have benefits?
Recording - When the Paycheque Stops: Strikes and Lockouts (November 14, 2023)
Recording - Preparing for a Proposal Vote (December 21, 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.
Do we have your email address?
To be able to participate in votes, eligible members should provide their personal email address and activate their CSU 52 web account.
Visit the Sign In / Sign Up page to get started.
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 is having discussions with the Employers to find a way for benefits coverage to continue. Employers cannot refuse benefits during a strike if premiums are paid. Contributions to the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP) 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.
13. Do I still pay union dues during a work stoppage?
We do not collect dues when our members are on strike. However, if you receive pay from the employer for hours worked prior to the strike, there will be Union dues on that amount – the employer's payroll system is set up to automatically deduct union dues.
14. Since we haven't yet voted and the cooling-off period comes to an end, will the employer serve 72 hours' notice to lock us out?
No. At this time, neither the City nor EPL have applied for a lockout vote. The employer is required to do the vote and get a lockout mandate prior to serving lockout notice.
While we have heard of managers at the City (all the way up to the Director level) communicating to employees that they will be locked out, the City's negotiating team has communicated to us that they are not the ones communicating that message.
We suspect that the Employers are currently waiting for the results of each of our strike votes before deciding on next steps.
Even though we feel the current threat of a lockout is low, we still need to be prepared to defend against a possible lockout. The only way to do that is to have a strike mandate.
15. I’m temporarily in an out-of-scope position but I’m paying CSU 52 dues to keep my seniority. Do I get to vote on strike?
(Updated on 2/1/2024) Temporary out-of-scope acting managers are now entitled to vote. The employer has informed us that anyone temporarily acting in a management role will be “sent back” to their home position upon a work stoppage. That means temporary out-of-scope positions would be included in a work stoppage. Therefore, we are allowing temporary out-of-scope positions to vote on the strike mandate. Also, in that event, you would be entitled to strike pay for walking a picket line.
Temporary out-of-scope/management positions come with an inherent conflict of interest; therefore, we are restricting access for all temporary out-of-scope position holders from e-News messages, strike strategy meetings, and other related union activities. This decision is based on the interests of the whole of the bargaining unit.
16. I've been asked to work during my Earned Day Off (EDO) for the purpose of training for my position in preparation of a possible work stoppage. Is this allowed?
CSU 52 has been receiving inquiries from City of Edmonton members who have been asked by management to work during their scheduled EDO for the purpose of training their position in preparation of a possible work stoppage.
Please be aware of Addendum #1 Compressed Hours of Work Programs, 6 Working Conditions, Clause 6.04.06 which states:
Employees shall be given forty-eight (48) hours' notice of a change in the off day resulting from compressed hours of work. Where an employee does not receive their off day as scheduled, they shall receive another off day in conjunction with their regular off days or other days, as mutually agreed. Where forty-eight (48) hours' notice is not provided or where it is not possible to reschedule the off day, the employee shall receive two (2) times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked on their off day resulting from compressed hours of work.
Employees may request to work an “earned day off” (“EDO”) to bank it for future use. The request to work an EDO for the purpose of banking it will be subject to approval by the employee’s management supervisor. No more than three (3) EDOs may be banked at any time. The employee may request to use a banked EDO with management approval at a mutually agreed to time. Such requests will not be unreasonably denied, subject to operational requirements.
If 48 hours notice is not being given for working on your scheduled off day (EDO), then “the employee shall receive two (2) times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked on their off day resulting from compressed hours of work.”
If you need further information, please call us at (780) 448-8900.
17. My manager asked the Union for an extension of my temporary position and the request was denied. Why?
In the Collective Agreement, a position can only remain temporary for up to 12 months (or 18 months if the temporary position is covering a maternity/parental leave or a sick leave). If the position goes beyond the temporary term, there is language in the Collective Agreement that automatically makes the employee permanent. Quite often when the Employer asks the Union to extend an employee in a temporary position, if the Union is to approve, we must waive an article in the Collective Agreement to allow an employee to remain in the position and not become permanent. Unions in general prefer that employees are provided with permanent benefitted positions instead of remaining temporary, so we often deny extension requests and tell the Employer to post the position permanently, unless a sick leave or maternity/parental leave is being extended (in this case, we want to ensure the employee on leave has a position to come back to).
There are times when an employee is hired for a temporary term less than 12 months and the Employer needs to extend the employee longer. With the looming strike/lockout, the Employers are doing contingency planning and may be extending positions with the hopes that the temporary employee will be compelled to work during a strike. As these employees are Union members, these members should go on strike, but because of the temporary nature, the Employer may try to force these temporary employees to continue working during the strike/lockout. Further, we understand that the City is using temporary workers to avoid posting permanent jobs. For these reasons, the Union made the difficult decision to deny most extension requests at this time. However, if there are extenuating circumstances, the Union may consider extensions on a case-by-case basis.
18. What if I am unable to access my work email to vote on the COE's Proposal Vote March 4-7?
Eligible City of Edmonton voters who will not be able to access their work email during the COE's Proposal Vote period must contact ALRB Labour Relations Officer Dan Galdamez as soon as possible at (780) 427-0067 or [email protected] and provide an alternate email address that the voting employee can access between March 3rd and 7th.
19. If we go on strike, will we still have benefits?
Yes. The CSU 52 Board of Directors agreed to pay both the employee and employer portions of the benefits premiums. This means that members will maintain all health and dental benefits while on strike.
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.
Recording - Preparing for a Proposal Vote
CSU 52 hosted a Zoom session for Shop Stewards and Strike Captains on December 21, 2023 - view recording .
Access restricted to Shop Stewards and Strike Captains