A Picket Captains Guide to Striking

While I may not call myself an expert on this subject, I am definitely experienced. I have been on strike for 58 days with my union Cupe 101 in London Ontario. 
I thought I would use my new found talent of blogging to good use and help future strikers prepare for their days on the picket line. Please note these are mostly my opinions, although I did ask other brothers and sisters for input. 
Weeks before the strike, sitting at my desk, I noticed managers in meetings getting ready, though I am not on the executive team in the union I believe this was happening as well. Verified contact information needs to be established for every member. Reminding those members who have a company email or cell phone that they need to provide a personal one. Captains need to be established at least two weeks in advance with their roster, time and location so they can be sure contact information is correct and if it is not they still have a way to contact their people at work and give their people a heads up to make arrangements for daycare, appointments, and part time work. A chief picket captain should be established with staff would help who can check emails, phone messages and go to picket lines when the need arises and have picket protocols ready and should have someone to deliver water. Captains should recon the picket locations for accessible washrooms and parking and establish a relationship with surrounding businesses.A payroll template needs to be established before going on strike. A newsletter template should be set up for weekly updates. Utilize the talents of your people, bring payroll people in for cheques, administrators for day to day business like petty cash, roster sheets, collecting benefit sheets, etc.
If a change in location and time is going to happen, give your people enough time to make arrangements. Give everyone a chance to work both morning and afternoon shifts. If there are people who cannot be on afternoons because of extenuating circumstances place them in the same group so they can always remain the same. An email should go out at the beginning to gather all the exceptions. Allowances need to be made for those who cannot picket at all. These should be people who cannot get to a place to picket and cannot walk or sit. If someone cannot walk for the four hours, they should be able to bring a chair and a sign.
Establish a picket headquarters where signs, information sheets, water, and lost and found items can be located, it should have free parking and be in a safe location. The negotiating team should be seen often to give the members a chance to ask questions. When not at the table and their work is done they should be on the line, at least twice a week at the different locations. Emails should be replied to as soon as possible with a turn around time of two to three days. Communication is so vital. When talks have stalled picket captains should be notified so they can let their people know before they see it in the media, if there has been a change of what is being asked in the contract and there is chance the media will report it, picket captains need to be notified.  
Picket captains need to establish their relationships with their roster by telling them their expectations, picket line protocol, parking, washrooms and breaks right away. Who do you call if you can’t picket and when do you call? People on your roster need to take care of themselves, please provide a list of things they need to bring everyday to the line: Water, hat, good walking shoes, sunscreen, their sign. Establish the importance of these items at the beginning. Establish protocol for talking to people and stopping cars. Ten minutes for cars and five minutes for walkers. Huddle with your team and other picket captains at the beginning and end of your shift to share do’s, don’ts, and incidences, etc. establish which picket captain take points at any particular exit/entrance site depending on how many there are. Establish a closed Facebook page which the administrator clearly pins the page rules. If this is not the official source for information from the union then make this very clear. If it is just a social forum then establish the guidelines and expectations.
Being on strike brought the union closer together. I have met so many wonderful people on the line and I hope to keep in close contact

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.