Canadian Professional
Management Services

Managing Employees in a Unionized Environment

Why do some unionized employees believe that they can’t be touched, and why is it that if it is not in their existing job description then they think they don’t have to do it? Sick time is used as an entitlement rather than a benefit and any form of coaching is seen as discipline and therefore challenged. No wonder supervisors cringe at the site of the Shop Steward and freeze in astonishment when an employee says ‘no’ to an instruction and walks away! Most supervisors and managers do not know their rights and do not have the skills to manage these issues when they arise. They start to feel that they are at the mercy of their union and become disillusioned and frustrated.

Ironically, most progressive Unions also want better management. They also believe that if management knew how to properly manage, there would not be as many problems in the workplace. They do want better processes, consistency and fairness, but they can’t be the ones teaching the managers!

Most people in management roles have never been taught how to successfully apply management rights in the workplace. The employer typically leaves it up to the individual to learn by experience. The problem with that is, by the time you learn from your mistakes, you would have lost the respect of most of your employees, your team would have developed a poisoned work environment, and you would have been so badly beaten up that you would have lost all sense of empowerment and in fact would want to quit! Is learning from your mistakes the only way to do it? No! This is why this program is important to you if you want to succeed and even thrive in a unionized organization. Learn what your rights are, and learn how to apply them in order to become confident.

Learning Objectives

  • Understanding management rights and obligations
  • Setting the standard of expectations
  • Learning how to enforce rules in a unionized environment
  • Understanding what arbitrators look for in disciplinary issues
  • Managing excessive absenteeism
  • Developing rational policies and procedures for the workplace
  • Building defensibility in your ability to manage a unionized workplace

Three Day Program Content

Understanding Management Rights
  • Bargained rights vs. Residual rights
  • Making and enforcing rules
  • Setting expectations and performance standards
  • Management Rights – what rights do you have
  • Employer policies and procedures
  • Side deals – how this can be limiting your rights
Unions and Their Role
  • Duty of fair representation
  • Carriage of collective rights
  • The Shop Steward and their role
  • Leaves for Union Business – your rights
  • Representation during investigations 
  • Dispute resolution - the alternative
The Collective Agreement
  • Becoming familiar with employment laws
  • Intent of collective agreement language
  • Learning to read collective agreement language
  • What are ‘letters of agreement?’
  • The use of headings in a collective agreement
  • What are mandatory provisions?
  • Management rights clause
Building Culture in a Unionized Environment
  • The six pack of culture
  • Defining acceptable norms and mores
  • Building positive traditions
  • Recognizing positive role models
  • Recognizing sub-cultures and cultural skewing
  • Positive labour relations – it really can happen
  • Disclosure of relevant information
Grievance Management
  • Writing effective grievance replies
  • Understanding grievances and hidden issues
  • What the Union and Management is responsible for 
  • 7 steps to an effective grievance investigation
  • What information must you gain from the investigation process
  • How to effectively use ‘step 1’ and ‘step 2’ meetings to your advantage
  • What information should and must you disclose 
  • ‘Without prejudice’ - what does it mean?
Managing Performance
  • Setting the standard
  • Communicating in a unionized environment
  • Identifying performance problems
  • Coaching and assistance
  • Proving poor performance
  • Creating a performance based culture
Managing Absenteeism
  • Doctrine of Frustration
  • Doctors’ notes and Dr. Automatic – what can you do?
  • Culpable vs. non-culpable absenteeism
  • The 'do’s and don’ts' of a good absenteeism program
  • Last chance agreements – what should they say?
  • Considerations regarding non-culpable absenteeism
  • Eliminating ‘patterned’ absenteeism
Using Progressive Discipline
  • Progressive discipline – when all else fails
  • Discipline models
  • How to develop discipline guidelines
  • 3 principles of progressive discipline
  • The ‘dirty dozen’ – 12 key considerations of discipline
  • Mitigating and aggravating principles
Using the Disciplinary Process
  • Consistent treatment does not mean identical treatment
  • How to write effective disciplinary letters
  • Culminating incidents – ‘the straw that breaks the camel’s back’
  • What is the standard of proof?
  • Considering fairness and natural justice
  • Why is timing of discipline important?
Documentation & Investigations
  • When and what to document
  • Formal versus informal conversations – is there a difference?
  • Understanding how to use warnings to correct behaviour
  • How to properly conduct an investigation
  • Confidentiality does not guarantee anonymity
  • The 'do’s and don’ts' of disciplinary meetings
Workplace Issues
  • Dealing with uncooperative employees
  • Harassment of other employees
  • Setting precedent – do you really want to?
  • Consistency in the workplace
  • Confronting to resolve
  • Using sick days as an entitlement
Case Studies
  • Insubordination and misconduct
  • Absenteeism – setting expectations
  • Enforcing workplace rules
  • Standard of proof – balance of probability
  • Breach of trust – the end of the relationship

General Information

Why should you attend?
  • Small interactive hands-on programs
  • Role-playing and simulation of real workplace situations
  • Group activities, open discussions and case studies
  • Experienced program presenters who are leaders in their field
  • Practical content and information that you can use in your everyday work environment
  • You will not be pressured to purchase books or videos as all program materials are provided at no additional cost
  • Program satisfaction guaranteed!
Who Should Attend?
  • Managers and supervisors
  • Human Resources and Labour Relations Specialists
  • Directors and Board Members
  • Administrators
  • Members of the negotiations team
  • Future Managers, Supervisors and those in leadership positions
General Program Information
  • Lunch and light refreshments are included daily
  • Program materials will be provided
  • Certificates will be presented upon completion of the program
  • Program is in session from 9am to 4 pm