Picketing FAQ

What is a picket line?

In the event of a strike, members of CUPE 3903 have the legal right to establish picket lines at the public entrances to the University.

What are picketers legally allowed to do?

In the event of a strike picketers are legally allowed to:

  • Carry signs stating the nature of the dispute;
  • Speak to people entering the property about their concerns; and
  • Ask persons entering the property to join the picket line.

Picketers are not legally allowed to:

  • Blockade roads, sidewalks, passageways or other entrances to or exits from the University;
  • Use force, threats or threatening gestures or moral pressure at a picket line or at an employee’s workplace; or
  • Conduct themselves in such a way as to constitute a nuisance at law or an unlawful assembly.

Is the Union permitted to picket on University property?

Picketing may take place on public property only. In the event of a strike, no picketing will permitted on University property.

As a student, am I expected to cross a picket line?

In the event of a strike as a student, you have the legal right and choice to continue to come onto campus during a labour disruption.

You also have the right to choose not to cross a picket line as set out in the Senate policy on disruptions.

When crossing picket lines, reasonable steps should be taken to avoid confrontations and refrain from speaking or acting provocatively on the picket line.

CUPE members are allowed to have information pickets at the entrances to campus. Informational picketing is not strike picketing.

Employees may carry signs, and distribute informational leaflets and ask for public support for the union's position.

NEW What steps is York taking to respond to CUPE 3903’s blockade of the entrances to the university?

The closing of road access into the University is not legal picketing activity. We are proactively reminding CUPE 3903 members that their barricading activity is not legal and creates safety concerns. We are also working closely with Toronto Police Service (TPS) to ensure they are aware of the evolving situation and especially public safety issues. Finally, we continue to encourage the York community to use public transit to access campus to reduce the number of vehicles accessing the campus.

I am a work/study student. Am I expected to cross a picket line?

As employees of the University, work/study students are expected to report to work (not to exceed 15 hrs/wk) during the current labour disruption. Work/study students cannot be penalized if they choose not to cross the picket lines; however, they must notify their supervisor if they wish to exercise this choice. In the event the disruption results in the extension of the term beyond April 23, the work study program end date may be extended to coincide with the new end date.

I am opposed to crossing picket lines. Do I still have to come to work?

The University requires all employees who are not in the striking CUPE 3903 bargaining unit, to continue to work during a labour dispute. If picket lines impede your access to campus, please contact your supervisor or manager for direction.

What happens if an employee faces threats or use of force by picketers or witnesses such acts on the picket line?

Employees should not engage in any confrontation with picketers. If you are not allowed through the picket line, or if you feel threatened, you should immediately withdraw and report the incident to their department manager or supervisor and the Operations Centre 416-736-5151.

In the event of a strike, what if an employee gets hurt crossing the picket line on his/her way to work?

As with any work-related injury, the employee should seek immediate medical attention if required and then report the incident to your department management supervisor and York Security at 416-736-5333.

What do I do if I have a problem or feel threatened at the picket line?

In the event of a strike if you have a problem at the picket line, call the picket line hotline 416-736-5151 between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Do not attempt to force your way in.
Do not become involved in any arguments or type of altercation

How do I approach a picket line?

In the event of a strike:

  • If you are driving, walking or biking onto campus, approach the line slowly and be prepared to stop.
  • Be prepared for delays and to wait until you can safely pass through the picket line.
  • Delays can also occur if CUPE 3903 establishes information pickets to distribute information.
  • If you are driving, plan your approach so that you will be making a right turn onto the campus. This will avoid being caught in the middle of an intersection in case of delays.

Remember: it is your responsibility to operate your vehicle in a safe and lawful fashion. The same suggestions applies if you encounter pickets blocking exits from the University.

What do I do if I am challenged by someone on the picket line?

In the event of a strike:

  • Roll down your vehicle window or otherwise indicate your willingness to communicate with the picketers.
  • Explain politely that you are exercising your legal right to attend classes or your obligation to report to work, or to conduct business on campus.
  • Display patience and try to remain calm.
  • The picketers may provide you with information and wish to discuss the issues with you.
  • If you are either unable or unwilling to engage them, please consider using the following response: “I’d like to exercise my right to come to work or to attend classes. Please let me cross the picket line.”
  • Only proceed through the picket line when you are waved through by those in charge of the picket line. You should never attempt to drive your vehicle through the picket line if picketers are blocking your way.

In the event of a strike what happens if impromptu rallies, protests and "flying pickets" are organized?

Please notify the:

  • Vice-President Finance & Administration (ext 55160)
  • AVP Campus Services & Business Operations (ext 55530) or
  • AVP Human Resources (ext 55155)

If you experience a problem at the picket line, please call the hotline at 416-736-5151, between 7:30am and 3:30pm.

Can I use the entrance to the CanLan Ice Sports Arena complex to avoid picket lines?

The CanLan property should not be used as an entrance to the University.  Community safety during the strike is a top priority for the University. The CanLan laneway is a designated fire route.  The recent increase in traffic using the laneway combined with picketing, has resulted in cars blocking this fire route, causing a potential safety hazard. Compounding this situation is that during the March Break, CanLan is running hockey camps and tournaments which has also significantly increased the volume of traffic. 

We would suggest the best way to have unobstructed access to the Keele campus is to use the subway.

What is the role of Toronto Police Services during a labour dispute?

A Toronto Police Services (TPS) consider labour disputes a civil matter and respond in regard to public safety or to enforce an injunction.  Currently TPS is also responding to safety calls from the University related to picketing.  For further information please download this TPS pamphlet by clicking here.