(2011-2012 HR#38) Message to all CUPE 3902 Unit 1 members

Date: February 16, 2012
To: PDAD&C; Professional and Managerial Staff
From: Angela Hildyard, Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity; Cheryl Misak, Vice-President and Provost
Re: Message to all CUPE 3902 Unit 1 members

The University will continue to work in good faith and with optimism that the coming week, when we are again in mediation, will see a resolution to the current impasse between it and CUPE 3902 Unit 1.

That said, it would be remiss not to begin to prepare for a potential strike. The University has made an offer addressing all of the Union’s major concerns and has provided improvements in most areas, without any concessions from employees. That offer was unanimously recommended to the membership by the CUPE bargaining committee. A small proportion of CUPE’s membership, approximately 5% of the bargaining unit, came to the meeting and rejected that offer. This puts us all in a difficult situation, from which we must all try to extract ourselves.

In a recent memo, the Union has suggested the University of Toronto Administration is encouraging Union members to continue working during a potential strike and engaging in ‘scare tactics’. Lest there be any misperceptions, we would like to clarify for you the University’s position.

Contrary to the earlier accusation of some CUPE members, the University does not intend to engage in a lockout. We will respect the rights of those who want to continue to work and we will respect the rights of those who want to strike. And contrary to a recent CUPE memo, the University is not engaging in and will not engage in ‘scare tactics’.

The Union, however, must respect the same legal obligation that applies to the University – not to “seek by intimidation or coercion” to compel you to exercise a particular right under the Labour Relations Act. Under the Act you have the right to choose to continue to work, as well as the right to strike. Neither party may coerce you to decide one way or the other.

CUPE also is suggesting to its members that they will be on the payroll in February whether or not they are working. While it is true that the February pay will go out in advance of a potential strike, I’m sure that all members will see that the University will have to subtract the proportion of the February pay from the next paycheck, whenever that is, for those members who did only partial work that month. To do otherwise would be unfair to those who choose to exercise their legal right to continue to work.

CUPE has said that choosing to work during a strike “could get you kicked out of the union.” That is up to them. But what they did not tell you is that doing so cannot get you kicked out of your job. If you continue to work you remain employed by the University in the normal manner and have rights as a bargaining unit member even if you are no longer a member of the Union.

CUPE has said that if you choose to work during a strike you “could lose your benefits”. The only employment benefit you could lose is that the Union could decide to deny your participation in their Financial Assistance Fund, to which the University contributes. We hope that they would not engage in such punitive action against those who exercise their legal and democratic rights. As for the Health Care Spending Account, your participation would continue, although it is true that Union members control its administration. Again, we hope that the Union would not apply its rules of administration in a punitive manner.

All this said, the University very much hopes that we can avoid a strike and we encourage all CUPE 3902 Unit 1 members, whatever their views, to attend the February 24 Membership meeting and make those views clear.