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Strike and Lockout FAQ

What does it mean that we are on strike?

  • A strike means that currently-employed GTAs have legally stopped their GTA work to put pressure on the University to meet our demands. Members of the campus community are asked not to enter onto campus, except for essential services. Other unions on campus have agreed to not take on our GTA duties while we are on strike. Striking members are positioned at the entrances to campus to share information and slow traffic.


  • You will need to sign a union card and sign in and out for strike duties, which include a minimum 4-hour shift a day.

  • Strike pay is not designed to replace actual loss of salary but rather to provide a very basic hedge against the fact that members who are on strike are without a source of income.  PSAC generally provides a flat rate of $53 per day to those members who normally work less than twenty hours per week.

  • Strike pay is triggered following 3 days of strike and then paid retroactively.

Who is eligible for strike pay?

  • Members who have signed a union card and are in good standing in the bargaining unit are able to take strike action.

  • Only members who are on the active payroll of the Employer are given strike pay. If members are not on active payroll, then they are not part of the striking bargaining unit. Contract workers must provide a copy of their contract to PSAC Headquarters. Those who have signed contracts with the Employer at the beginning of strike action are eligible for strike pay up to the last date of their contract. Members unemployed or on lay-off at the beginning of the strike as well as members on paid vacation, sick leave, injury on duty leave, compensation benefits or other paid leave do not receive strike pay.

  • If you face budget deficits for the essentials (rent, heat, hydro, groceries) as a result of losing your TA pay, you may apply for the Strike Hardship Fund. In order to be eligible, you MUST conduct strike duties and you must work more than 70 hours (employees with 70 hour contracts or less do not face a reduction in pay as a result of strike pay).

If I do all my TA hours before we go on strike, and we go on strike, will I get strike pay?

  • Strike pay is based on participation in strike duties for members currently employed by Western and who remain members in good standing. So, yes if you participate in strike duties and a member in good standing.

if we strike, Will I get paid for the hours I already worked as a TA?

  • Yes, Western would have to pay you for your work. If you have any issues, please contact your department Steward.

  • It is of utmost importance to track your hours as a GTA. Your supervisor in your TA assignments may also be someone you can reach out to to see if they would provide verification of which duties you have completed.

How do we win a strike or lockout?

  • Once a strike or lockout takes place, there is no timeframe for it to end. Essentially it can carry on forever unless the parties shift their positions. At any time, parties can agree to return to the table to attempt to reach a negotiated settlement. If both parties agree, an arbitrator can be appointed to hear both cases for their proposals and issue a decision that determines the outstanding issues. Yet, it is important to note that arbitrators will not provide further gains and tend to stick to the industry standards.

  • Winning a strike is about staying organized, united and maintaining strong picket lines. Continuous pressure on the Employer to get back to the table needs to happen through social media, public outreach, and volunteer hours. The 4-hour minimum needed for strike pay may not win a strike.


  • Western can request what is called a No-Board Report, issued by the Minister of Labour, putting them in a legal position to lockout GTAs, 17 days after the request for a No Board Report is made. Should this take place, Western can deny you access to your email and possibly even workspace.

  • At this point, Western has not locked us out despite having the legal grounds to do so. Employers, especially prominent employers like Western , rarely lock members out because of the bad PR it would bring.



  • In the event of a lockout, you would not perform your TA duties and Western would not pay you. Please review your annual funding package and ensure you are informed about what Western has agreed to. If you have already worked your TA duties, then Western should not disrupt your pay. In the event that they do, please contact your union steward to grieve. In the most common case, you will have remaining TA duties (marking, proctoring etc.) and Western would stop payment if you stop work (as a result of strike or lockout). In that case, all provisions are the same as for strike pay; participating in strike actions will mean you get strike pay (even if it is a lockout).

What would happen in the event of a general strike or lockout?

  • Solidarity is at the heart of every Union. By sticking together PSAC members have been able to achieve some of the strongest collective agreements in the country. During a strike or lock-out, the need to stay together is greater than ever.

  • Picket lines would need to be set up and members would withdraw their GTA labour, in all its forms. We cannot let Western have business as usual by benefiting from your contributions.

How will my research be affected in the event of a general strike or lockout?

  • As academic workers there are nuances to your relationship with the University. Research, writing and work in regard to your thesis and academic career, that are not related to your GTA work, is permitted when necessary (i.e. based on the established strike protocol). This must be well defined and understood, as to not have members cross the picket line with the pretense that they are not doing GTA work. Please fill out the essential services form if you have necessary work and need to cross the picket line. Please request remote work where possible.

  • Should a general strike or lock-out take place at Western, it will have an impact on all other university workers. Picket lines will be established, and students and employees will be asked to respect these picket lines. The PSAC Constitution contains prohibitions on members who are in a legal strike position crossing a picket line (both physically and virtually) and performing bargaining unit work while on strike. Pressure must be placed on the university to return to the bargaining table and conclude a fair collective agreement for GTA members.

  • PSAC Local 610, PSAC Ontario and the London Regional Office have developed a strike protocol that will balance your need to conduct research with the need to maintain strong picket lines to have an impact upon Western.

What is a Strike Protocol?

  • PSAC Ontario, in consultation with the Local, other unions/Locals involved and campus security and other law enforcement; will develop what is called a strike protocol. This formal agreement lays out the instructions and commitments involved in the event of a strike or lockout.

  • TA work that could impact on the public’s safety for example or the wellbeing of an animal, would likely continue in some type of limited capacity. As you can imagine, Employers often try to classify the bulk of their employment as essential, to weaken a picket line and allow business as usual to continue. This severely limits the effectiveness of a labour action, leading to prolonged strikes/lockouts and weakened agreements.

  • Any strike protocol developed will include setting up picket lines at Western, resulting in significant delays in accessing the campus, including research labs, and all bargaining unit members will be expected to support the picket line.

What happens if I continue to do work related to my GTA duties?

  • Strikebreakers are members who continue to perform work duties during a strike or lock-out. This work undermines their co-worker’s efforts to reach a fair agreement by weakening the bargaining unit and making it easier for the Employer to continue business as usual. This violates the PSAC Constitution and normally results in disciplinary proceedings. Strike pay will not be given and membership within the Union can be revoked.


How will other unrelated work on campus be affected by a strike (for example library, retail, food services, RA’ships, residence, staff, campus, IT, services, etc.)?

  • In the event of a strike or lockout, members will be expected to stop all work associated with their GTA contracts, including virtually. Members who work secondary jobs at the university will be asked to support the picket line through the strike protocol developed by PSAC and by fulfilling their strike duties (i.e. picketing).

What is considered virtual work (TA and other) and can I still perform it?

  • Virtual work is work conducted off-campus, such as thesis writing or sending your supervisor emails. Such work is permitted during a general strike as long as it is not connected to your GTA work.

  • All virtual GTA work, such as submitting grades, communicating with students, etc., is considered strikebreaking labour and undermines the bargaining unit and bargaining process.

  • If you are responsible for correcting exams as part of your GTA work and do so virtually, then that is a form of strike breaking. This would lead to consequences such as ineligibility of strike pay and revoking of your Union membership.

Western has several off-site research stations. Do research stations form part of campus?

  • Yes, off-site research stations where GTAs work would be considered part of campus.

If there is a general strike, how will other jobs be affected?

  • Off-campus work will not be directly affected by a general strike; however, it may be impacted by the requirement of the minimum 4 hours of picket duties. Other employees are encouraged to join our picket lines during their breaks and before and after work.   

Can I continue to work with off-campus collaborators?

  • Yes, however, if that work is tied to your GTAship, then this would be breaking your picket line, including virtually, as it would be considered strikebreaking.

Will accommodations be made on the picket line for people with disabilities?

  • For members whose disabilities prevent or restrict their ability to picket, alternate strike duties (e.g., assisting with social media campaigns) may be assigned to earn strike pay.

  • Please fill out the accommodations form.

How would a TA strike impact postdocs?

  • Only the GTA Unit of PSAC Local 610 would withdraw labour in the event of a general strike. However, postdocs are welcome to support our cause and join us on a picket line, as are professors, students and other workers on campus.

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