Collective bargaining is a crucial process for many employers
and employees. Planning and preparation are important to ensuring
the process proceeds smoothly, efficiently and yields a
satisfactory result. With just a little planning and preparation,
the parties can avoid lengthy negotiations and focus the process on
issues of key importance in the workplace. While it may not be
possible to avoid disagreements in the bargaining process, planning
and preparation may help to minimize the number of disagreements
thereby reducing the risk of strike or lockout. With these goals in
mind, here is a short checklist of points to review before you
start collective bargaining:
What are the Union's demands? Try to cost each one. What is
the monetary impact on the basis of cost, per employee, per
What are the Employer's demands? Review these before your
first meeting with the Union.
Who is on your bargaining team? What expertise can they
Who will be the chief spokesperson for your team? What roles
will other members of the team play?
Who is on the Union's bargaining committee? Are any of them
Obtain collective agreements and comparative costing
information from competitors in your industry.
Know what your bottom line is, going into bargaining.
Check Letters of Understanding and Appendices to the collective
agreement and determine whether you want them to continue in the
next collective agreement.
Have a draft Memorandum of Agreement that sets out issues such
as ratification requirements (by Employer and Union). Consider any
retroactivity issues, eligibility for special payments such as lump
sum payments, etc.
Collective bargaining is a collaborative process in which labour
and management must work to achieve a common goal. At the same
time, the process is also adversarial in nature. Planning and
preparation will help the parties to narrow the issues, streamline
the process, minimize conflict, and hopefully, achieve a
satisfactory result. This in turn can help to strengthen the labour
management relationship, building a climate of trust and respect
for future negotiations.
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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