“If we go on strike, will I get paid?"
"How much? How often? And what other benefits will I be able to get?”
I hear questions like those constantly from members who want to be as prepared as they can to take collective action to get their pay, benefits, and workplace conditions to move from bad to okay, and from okay to good. I totally understand why so many people are worried, and you deserve clear answers to these questions that should make it easier to be brave when we’re fighting for a better life.
First, when you’re on strike, or if your boss locks you out, then every week, the strike fund qualifies you to receive $400.00. But what if you have kids or other people counting on you to pay for food, shelter, utilities, and other necessities of life—in other words, people you can claim on your income taxes as dependents? As long as you can provide proof of dependency, you’ll get an additional $40.00 per week for each one of them. And on the question of existing health benefits, eligible members will get them wherever possible.
So, what do you need to do to get your strike pay? When we strike, we’re not just fighting together, we’re working together so we can all win. During a strike, that work is walking the picket line so everyone can see that we’re a united team for justice. Join that picket line for 30 hours per week, or for whatever other arrangements the picket captain makes, and after five continuous days of walking the line, you’ll get paid retroactive to the beginning of the strike. Members of other locals who withhold services and are honouring the strike, and they’ll register with the picket captain, too. So long as you show up to the line for your 30 hours and you register with the picket captain, you’ll get paid.
Now, to be clear, we’re on one side, and the bosses who forced you to strike in the first place are on the other. So anyone still getting paid by the boss doesn’t get strike pay. But that doesn’t mean that everyone working inside is automatically a scab. For instance, an Essential Services Agreement designates certain workers as essential. If the bosses pay them less than $400 per week, those workers may get strike pay, too, and AUPE will discuss picketing arrangements with them to ensure they can maintain a minimum income of $400 a week during a dispute.
And what about taxes? Don’t worry—the Supreme Court has said since 1990 that Revenue Canada can’t touch your strike pay.
We’ll fight together to make a better future for all of us, and when you have question on strike pay or anything else I can help you with, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If we all stick together and use our resources and strength, the bosses can’t stop us. We’ll win.
Executive Secretary Treasurer