Canadian Professional
Management Services

Union Contract Negotiations
Union Contract Negotiations

Negotiating collective agreements is the single most critical responsibility for both Management and Union. The process and the results of the collective agreement have the potential to destroy the relationship between the parties. It can also alter how effectively Management can manage its workplace, as well as the Union’s ability to represent the interests of its members. Ultimately, this single business contract can lead to the success or the demise of the organization, and the viability of the membership. How this process is managed and the resulting collective agreement will determine your success.

Collective bargaining is a complex process between two opposing interests. On one side, you have Management who must meet organizational and financial objectives. They must ensure the profitability and even survivability of their organization. Increases in labour budgets and limitations on their management rights can, in some circumstances, lead to the demise of the organization. On the other side, the Union, by legislation, must protect not only the economic welfare of its members, but must ensure that employees are treated fairly and that they work in a safe environment. Failure to properly represent its members can also jeopardize the strength of a Union.

It is the role of a skilled negotiator to bridge the gap between these two positions. It is the successful negotiator that will move the discussions from a position of resistance and opposing demands, to a position of mutual agreement and a concluded collective agreement. Whether you are assisting with negotiations in the back room, will be negotiating for the first time, or have concluded agreements in the past, this three-day program will give you strategies and skills that Chief Negotiators for national and Fortune 500 companies use at the bargaining table. Learn how successful negotiators are able to manage this delicate process and come out 'victorious.'

Three-Day Program Content

Understanding the Law
  • Notice periods for parties bound by a collective agreement
  • Pre-strike / pre-lockout vote and notice
  • Illegal job action – what to do
  • When you should apply for essential services
  • Notice of strike or lockout
  • Last offer votes – when you should use them
  • Mediation services – can they really provide assistance
  • Unfair labour practice complaints – what this can accomplish
  • How to prepare for binding arbitration
Collective Bargaining Language & Interpretation
  • Intent of collective agreement language – what the words really mean
  • How to draft collective agreement language
  • Utilizing a ‘definitions section’ to your advantage
  • Master agreements & pattern bargaining
  • How to build intent into a collective agreement
  • What is parole evidence
  • Learning to read language in the alternative
Collective Bargaining Overview
  • Understanding the collective bargaining process
  • The principles of negotiation
  • Positional versus interest-based bargaining – pros and cons of each
  • Mandatory contract provisions
  • Successful bargaining strategies
  • Position and situation assessment
  • Using different negotiation styles to resolve negotiation impasse
  • First contracts – what to include and what to avoid
Preparing for Collective Bargaining
  • Data collection and utilization
  • Team selection – responsibilities of each member
  • The importance of location and logistics
  • Keeping track of all of your documents
  • Team preparation and readiness
  • Knowing your bottom-line and how much flexibility you have
  • Developing your strike/lockout plan in advance
  • Costing your collective agreement for the duration of the agreement
Negotiation Techniques
  • Understanding the difference between technical and tactical skills
  • Navigating through proposals to arrive at the deal
  • Developing negotiation tactics
  • The three main negotiation techniques – when these are appropriate
  • Exchanging proposals prior to negotiating
  • Knowing what to leave out of a collective agreement
  • Knowing when to give up on an issue
  • Preparing your opening statement for negotiations
  • Putting together your final document for signature
Strategies while at the Table
  • The top 5 rules for the negotiation team
  • How do you ‘condition’ a negotiations table
  • Making critical decisions at the table
  • Drafting the tentative memorandum of agreement – the essential components
  • Understanding the negotiations cycle
  • When to use final offer votes
  • Preparing the final document
  • How to use your team members’ strengths strategically during negotiations

Negotiation Simulation

Union Contract Negotiations2You will be assigned to a negotiations team, representing either the Union or the Management for this negotiation simulation. Each team will be provided with the case study which includes information about the organization, the Union, the labour environment, the issues that have resulted in grievances, and the current collective agreement. Each team will then determine their approach and strategy, which articles require modifying, and their strike/lockout positions.

Union and Management will meet throughout the day to exchange proposals. During each exchange, you will have the opportunity to participate as the lead spokesperson. By the end of this day, the two parties must reach a concluded collective agreement. How you achieve this depends on your team’s ability to put your newly developed skills to use!

Learning Objectives

  • How to develop a negotiations strategy and achieve consensus with your negotiations team
  • How to manage the “politics” of the back room
  • How to develop effective presentation techniques and advocacy
  • How to move a discussion from a position of resistance to one of agreement
  • Why document control and the flow of paper is crucial
  • How to read, write and interpret language quickly
  • Know when to sign off on a proposal
  • Why team selection is important
  • Test your newly acquired knowledge and techniques
  • Participate in a detailed debriefing

General Information

Why should you attend?
  • Learn how to do it right the first time
  • Negotiation mistakes are costly
  • Keep your organization viable
  • Ensure that you have the tools to succeed
Who Should Attend?
  • Negotiators – for management and unions
  • Negotiations team
  • Owner operators
  • Financial managers
  • Union Shop Stewards, Business Agents and Presidents
  • Board members
General Program Information
  • Lunch and light refreshments are included daily
  • Program materials will be provided
  • Please bring your laptops for the simulation
  • Certificates will be presented upon completion of the program
  • Program is in session from 9am to 4 pm
  • Teams may choose to continue preparing their case into the early evening of Day Two