Labour Relations

Labour Relations

Chapter 16: Labour Relations Labour union: an officially recognized association of employees practicing a similar trade or employed in the same company or industry who have joined together to present a united front and collective voice in dealing with management. -the purpose of unionization are to influence HR policies and practices that affect bargaining unit members such as pay and benefits. Labour- management relations: the ongoing interactions between labour unions and management in organizations -managerial discretion and flexibility in dealing with employees and in implementing and administering HR policies/procedures are reduced.

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Collective agreement (union contract): a formal agreement between an employer and the union representing a group of its employees regarding terms and conditions of employment. Collective bargaining: negotiations between a union and an employer to arrive at a mutually acceptable collective agreement -an organization’s labour relations strategy, one component of its HR strategy, is its overall plan for dealing with unions, which sets the tone for its union-management relationships. -union acceptance strategy- view the union as the legitimate representative of the employees. union avoidance strategy- prefer to operate in a non unionized environment. (Walmart) -to avoid unions, companies can either adopt a: -union substitution approach- become so responsive to employees’ needs that there is no incentive for them to unionize -union suppression approach- when there is a desire to avoid a union at all costs (Walmart) Canada’s Labour Laws -Canadian Labour laws have two general purposes: 1. To provide a common set of rules for fair negotiations 2. To protect the public interest by preventing the impact of labour disputes from inconveniencing the public. common characteristics of labour relations across Canada (copy p439) Types of Unions: 1. Type of worker eligibility for membership. a. Craft union- traditionally, a labour organization representing workers practicing the same craft or trade, such as carpentry, nurses, teachers b. Industrial union- a labour organization representing all workers eligible for union membership in a particular company or industry, irrespective of the type of work performed. 2. Geographical Scope. c. International, national, or local unions . Labour congress affiliation. d. Affiliation with one or another central labour organization -local: the basic unit of the labour union movement in Canada, formed in a particular location. -the union locals are generally the most important part of the union structure -key players within the local are the elected officials known as the union stewards, who are responsible for representing the interests and protecting the rights of employees -as of 2008, just over 30% of Canadian employees were unionized. the membership in unions as a % of the labour force has been slowly decreasing since the 1980s -various factors responsible include, a dramatic increase in service sector and white-collar jobs, combined with a decrease in employment opportunities in industries that have traditionally been highly unionized (manufacturing), and more effective HR practices in non-unionized firms Current Challenges facing the Canadian Labour Movement: Global competition: -forcing employers to become more militant, and unions are struggling to maintain their influence at the bargaining table. jobs moving to lower-cost countries Demographics: -the aging workforce and pending labour shortages affect unions -HR and unions need to work together to attract and retain workers -retention concerns make employers more willing to offer job security in exchange for promises of productivity and flexibility from unions -pension and benefits for older workers Unionization of white-collar employees: -focused on work/family issues and health and safety risks (repetitive strain injury) The Labour Relations Movement: (figure 16. ) The labour relations process consists of five steps: 1. Employees decide to seek collective representation 2. The union organizing campaign begins 3. The union receives official recognition 4. Union and management negotiate a collective agreement 5. Day-to-day contract administration begins Step 1: Desire for Collective Representation Factors linked to desire to unionize: -job dissatisfaction -lack of job security -unfair or biased policies/practices -inequities in pay -lack of opportunity for advancement unionized employees earn 8% more than non-unionized workers -on average, unionized female workers earn 93% of hourly wage men earn Step 2: Union Organizing Campaign Five steps involved in this process: 1. Employee/union contact. (during these initial discussions, employees investigate the advantages of union representation, and union officials gather info about why employees are dissatisfied) 2. Initial organizational meeting. (aim is to identify employees who will be willing to help the organizer direct the campaign) 3. Formation of an in-house organizing committee. groups of employees who are dedicated to the goal of unionization) 4. The organizing campaign. (members of the in-house committee then contact employees, present the case for unionization, and encourage employees to sign an authorization card that indicated their willingness to be represented by the union) 5. The outcome. Step 3: Union Recognition A union can obtain recognition as a bargaining unit in three basic ways: 1. Voluntary recognition -if an employer has adopted a union acceptance strategy and believe employees want to be represented by the union 2.

Regular certification -the minimum level of support varies from 25% – 65% (Manitoba) in the form of signed authorization cards -the LRB determines whether the bargaining unit defined by the unit is appropriate for collective bargaining purposes -automatic certification if unfair practices, or high enough level of support from bargaining unit (50-55%) -if the union losses after the representative vote, another election cannot be held amoung the same employees for at least one year. -about 20% of certifications are the result of a vote- 80% are the result of authorization cards alone . Pre-hearing vote -an alternative mechanism for certification, used in situations in which there is evidence of violations of fair labour practices early in the organizing campaign -the intent is to determine the level of support for the union as quickly as possible Termination of Bargaining Rights: -bargaining rights can be terminated through decertification (union is legally deprived as the exclusive bargaining agent for the employees) -members can apply for decertification if the union has failed to negotiate collective agreement within one year of certification, or are dissatisfied with the union’s performance – more than 50% of ballots cast need to be in opposition of the union -termination on abandonment- labour union notifies the LRB that it no longer wants to continue to represent the employees in a particular bargaining unit Step 4: Collective Bargaining -process where a formal collective agreement is established between labour and management -both union and management are required to bargain in good faith, and make every reasonable effort to arrive at an agreement -steps involved: Preparation for bargaining -planning the bargaining strategy and assembling data to support proposals -analysis of greivances, campaign promises, salary/wage surveys, make plans for possible strike or lockout -then each side forms a negotiating team and an initial bargaining plan/stragtegy is prepared. Initial proposals are then finalized and presented to management or the union for final approval * Face-to-face negotiations negotiations usually held at neutral, off-site location (hotel), so there is no psychological advantage for wither team, and distractions can be minimized -also have a separate rooms for each team (causus session) -no set time limit or number of meetings a year -bargaining zone (see figure 16. 3)- the area defined by the bargaining limits of each side, in which compromise is possible, as is the attainment of a settlement satisfactory to both parties -distributive bargaining- a win-lose negotiation strategy, such that one party gains at the expense of the other. distribution of things are in fixed amounts, ex. Wage increases) -integrative bargaining- a negotiation strategy in which the possibility of win-win, lose-win, win-lose, and lose-lose outcomes is recognized, and there is acknowledgement that achieving a win-win outcome will depend on mutual trust and problem solving. (issues pertaining to job description, work rules, etc) -mutual gains (interest based) bargaining- a win-win approach based on training in the fundamentals of effective problem solving and conflict resolution, in which the interests of all stakeholders are taken into account Obtaining approval for the proposed contract -collective agreements must be written documents -memorandum settlement- a summary of the terms and conditions agreed to by the parties that is submitted to the constituent group for final approval. -ratification- final approval by secret-ballot vote of the bargaining unit members of the agreement negotiated between union and management -once signed, the memorandum of settlement serves as the collective agreement until the formal document is prepared. Third Party Assistance and Bargaining Impasses conciliation- the use of a neutral third party to help an organization and the union representing a groups of its employees to come to a mutually satisfactory collective agreement. -using persuasion; they are not permitted to have any direct input into the negotiation process or impose a settlement -goal is to avoid strike/lockout -in all jurisdictions (except Saskatchewan) strikes/lockouts are prohibited until third party assistance has been undertaken -mediation- the use (usually voluntary) of a neutral third party to help an organization and the union representing its employees to reach a mutually satisfactory collective agreement. active role; meeting with each side separately and then bring them together hoping to bridge the gaps -allowed to have a direct input into the negotiation process but cannot impose a settlement -when the union and management negotiating teams are unable to reach an agreement, and once conciliation process has been undertaken, the union may exercise its right to strike or request interest arbitration and the employer may exercise its right to lock out the bargaining unit members. -strike: the temporary refusal by bargaining unit members to continue working for the employer strike vote: legally required in some jurisdictions, it is a vote seeking authorization from bargaining unit members to strike if necessary. A favourable vote does not mean that the strike is inevitable. -vote helps union negotiating team determine their relative strength -picketing -boycott : refusal to patronize the employer. Such action can harm the employer and develop a bias against the employer’s products that is not easily reversed. -lockout: temporary refusal of a company to continue providing work for bargaining unit employees involved in a labour dispute, which may result in closure of the establishment for a time. to put pressure on the union to agree to the terms/conditions being offered by management) -it is illegal for a union to call a strike involving employees who do not have the right to strike because of the essential nature of their services (nurse, police) – it is illegal to call a strike during the term of an existing collective agreement -wildcat strike: a spontaneous walkout, not officially sanctioned by the union leadership, which may be legal or illegal, depending on its timing. -arbitration: the use of an outside third party to investigate a dispute etween an employer and union and impose a settlement. Decisions are final and binding and cannot be revised/changed. -interest arbitration: the imposition of the final terms of a collective agreement (used to settle an interest dispute) -interest dispute: a dispute between an organization and the union representing its employees over terms of a collective agreement. -the right to interest arbitration is legally mandated for workers who are not permitted to strike (nurses) The Collective Agreement: Typical Provisions -eventual outcome of collective bargaining, is a formal, written, collective agreement union recognition clause: clarifies the scope of the bargaining unit by specifying the employee classifications (included therein or listing those excluded) -union security clause: the contract provisions protecting the interests of the labour union, dealing with the issue of membership requirements and, often, the payment of union dues. Various forms: -closed shop clause -union shop -modified union shop -maintenance-of-membership arrangement -Rand Formula -there must be a clause in every contract in Canada forbidding strike/lockouts while the collective agreement is in effect (must be at least one year) in general the duration of collective agreements in Canada is increasing Step 5: Contract Administration -seniority and discipline issues tend to be the major sources of disagreement between management and the union -Seniority: length of service in the bargaining unit -in many collective agreements, seniority is the governing factor in layoffs and recalls, and a determining factor in transfers and promotions -prefer seniority as an equitable and objective decision making criteria, ensuring there is no favoritism (managers often prefer to place greater weight on ability/merit) Discipline: -action if rules are broken -collective agreements restrict an employer’s right to discipline employees by requiring proof of just cause, and backed by carefully documented evidence. -even when handled carefully, the union may argue that there were extenuating circumstances that should be taken into consideration Grievance Resolution and Rights Arbitration -grievance: a written allegation of a contract violation, filed by an individual bargaining unit member, the union, or management. -see figure 16. 4 for a typical grievance procedure failure to respond within the specified time limit may result in the grievance being automatically processed to the next step or being deemed to be withdrawn or resolved. (90% of all grievances are settled, abandoned, or withdrawn before arbitration) -rights arbitration: the process involved in the settlement of a rights dispute (if they cannot be resolved internally) -rights dispute: a disagreement between an organization and the union employees regarding the interpretation or application of one or more clauses in the current collective agreement.


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