Queen's University IRC

Labour Relations

The Path to Success for Organized Labour

The Path to Success for Organized Labour

Labour unions are at a critical time in history. Unions are working to engage the current membership and exploring new innovative communication strategies that are needed to reach the younger generation in a meaningful way. Gone are the days of the bulletin board as the primary sources of union news and updates.

Accommodating Mental Illness in the Workplace

Invisible Barriers: Accommodating Mental Illness in the Workplace

Mental illness is a leading cause of disability in Canada. In fact, at least 500,000 employed Canadians are not able to work due to mental health problems in any given week. Understanding and accommodating mental illness is an evolving area that requires a flexible approach. This article will discuss the key legal requirements and interesting related case-law related to workplace mental health issues.

The Future of Labour

The Future of Labour

The labour movement in Canada has a long and proud history of success and positive community involvement. Throughout the years however, union membership levels across North America have been on a steady decline.  Many would argue the decline in the ranks of unions is attributed to stronger labour laws protecting workers, less interest by the young workers entering the workforce and a more transient workforce demanding flexibility and merit over seniority.

There is No Cookie Cutter Approach to Labour Relations

There is No Cookie Cutter Approach to Labour Relations

As an HR professional or senior leader, you spend years mastering the labour relations fundamentals.  Not the textbook fundamentals, but the behaviours, the actions, communication styles–the way you handle sensitive situations.  You log numerous failures, like the time you told the union that the grievance was invalid because they used red ink, the time you were new and mistook a seasoned union employee for a manager and accidentally told them your grievance strategy.

Our Continuing Need to Teach

Human Rights and Human Wrongs: Our Continuing Need to Teach

Francine had been disciplined before. She had been suspended for 3 days, for an angry outburst that she had in the shipping department. But this time was worse. Francine was in the cafeteria, finishing her break. Three co-workers sat down at the same table, and within minutes she began yelling and swearing at them. One of them began talking to her, trying to quiet her down. She threw her cup of tea in his face, and then left the room. Francine was terminated. The letter of termination cited the company anti-violence and harassment policies.

Costly Conduct

Workplace Bullying and Harassment: Costly Conduct

As media scrutiny over schoolyard and cyberbullying pervade the news, allegations of workplace harassment and bullying are on the rise. While the popularization of the terms “bullying” and “harassment” has both educated and empowered employees to assert the right to a respectful workplace, it has conversely sometimes resulted in overuse of the terms and meritless complaints in relation to reasonable management measures. Employers are left with the difficult task of managing all competing interests to ensure a safe, respectful and productive work environment.

A Collective Bargaining Success Story

Improve Your Negotiation Outcome By Learning Something New: A Collective Bargaining Success Story

Most people are familiar with the old adage that defines true insanity as doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result.  Then why, in labour relations, do we continue using the same processes and methods that have not yielded positive results for us in the past?  Well, some parties have learned this lesson and are trying new approaches in their search for win-win outcomes of negotiation.

Strategic Grievance Management in Today’s Unionized Environment

Strategic Grievance Management in Today’s Unionized Environment

The word “strategic” gets thrown around pretty loosely these days – it’s one of those business buzz words meant to instill confidence that we’ve thought this through and it’s all under control: trust us, we’ve got a strategic plan! But there’s more to it than just calling something “strategic”. The term “strategic” implies there is a thoughtful, organized strategy guiding your efforts; that a particular issue has been viewed in the broader context and your decision to proceed is based on the impacts that decision will have across the organization

HR Reporter roundtable - Peter Edwards, Bill Murnighan, Elaine Newman and Anna Goldfinch

Young Workers and the Union Movement in Canada

Many young workers don't feel connected to the labour movement. They see it as a relic from previous generations, something that may have helped their parents but isn't helping them, and something that might even be preventing them from obtaining good jobs.  So what can unions do to win over young workers? This question was discussed at a recent roundtable discussion on the future of unions in the private sector hosted by the Canadian HR Reporter, and sponsored by Queen's IRC.

How can unions overcome their PR problem?

The Future of Unions in Canada’s Private Sector: How Can Unions Overcome their PR Problem?

Unions face many negative perceptions, such as the notion that union workers are lazy, under worked, have job security for life, and enjoy gold-plated benefits and pension packages that others can only dream about. In light of this, how can unions overcome their PR problem? This question was one of many that was put to a panel of labour relations practitioners and experts recently, at a roundtable discussion sponsored by Queen's IRC, and hosted by the Canadian HR Reporter.

The changing landscape of collective bargaining after Ontario (A.G.) v. Fraser

Labour Relations in Canada: The Changing Landscape of Collective Bargaining after Ontario (A.G.) v. Fraser

Following the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) in Ontario (A.G.) v. Fraser (Fraser), there has, predictably, been widespread speculation as to its eventual effect on the labour relations landscape in Canada.  A departure from other recent SCC case law, Fraser found that there was no constitutional guarantee for any specific form of labour relations or collective bargaining regime.  Even if the decision was significant in shaping Canada’s constitutional framework for collective bargaining, any tangible effect on labour policy has yet specifically to materialize

Six Levels of Workplace Health

The Six Levels of Workplace Health

The theory of "workplace health" can be best described by comparing a workplace to a human being. As humans, our health is often affected by the choices we make regarding diet, exercise, stress and generally the way we choose to live our lives. Poor diet, excessive stress, lack of sleep, lack of exercise and destructive behaviours such as alcohol and drug abuse can often lead to poor health.

Balancing Employee Privacy Interests with Workplace Safety

Random Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace

In modern society, safety and privacy interests frequently seem to conflict, particularly in the workplace. Random drug and alcohol testing is one instance when these interests may conflict. Employers are obligated under occupational safety legislation to provide a safe workplace for employees. The risk of workplace accidents increases if employees are working under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

DynaLIFEDx’s experience mastering the fact-finding and investigation process

Creating a Strategy for Workplace Investigations

Workplace investigations – where to begin? Like many organizations DynaLIFEDx conducts internal investigations for a variety of different reasons. In 2011, new to the world of Human Resources and Employee Relations, I was challenged to evaluate our internal processes for workplace investigations, identify risks and opportunities, and make recommendations on a move forward strategy. What clearly became evident was a strong desire to do the right thing, but a lack of consistency and clarity in how workplace investigations were handled.

A legal review

Family Status Accommodations:

This paper canvasses the existing legislation in respect of “family status” accommodation obligations and provides an overview of a number of recent cases that shed some light on how “family status” accommodation situations are playing out in Canadian workplaces.

Implementing an Interest-Focused Collective Bargaining Strategy

Implementing an Interest-Focused Collective Bargaining Strategy

I was a professional Fire Fighter in the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), for many years before I got directly involved as a member of our Local's negotiating team. Although I was always interested in our Association's activities, and I regularly attended meetings, I never considered myself "involved-enough" to run for any committee or executive position for those first 15 years of my career.

Handling Labour Relations Disasters

Handling Labour Relations Disasters

A female employee was involved in a romantic relationship with a male member of the team. He was married. She had enough. The romance ended. He was unable to accept the end of the relationship. He called her repeatedly, at home and at work. He openly harassed her. He distributed photos of her.  

Queen's University in Kingston, ON

Training Employees is Key to Effective Union-Management Relationships

For practitioners in Queen's University's Human Resources (HR) department, the past two years have brought about a number of changes in the way they do their jobs. Two years ago, there were four union contracts at the University, and today, the tenth contract is being negotiated. With about 80% of the University's employees now unionized, Al Orth, Associate Vice-Principal (Human Resources) at Queen's University, says the environment has changed significantly.
 

Managing Mental Health in the Workplace

Managing Mental Health in the Workplace

Understanding and complying with the employer's legal duty to accommodate disabled employees is one of the biggest challenges facing labour relations professionals today. This is particularly so in the case of mental health issues. The statistics are telling. It has been reported that one in six Canadians will suffer from mental illness at one point in their lives and that one out of every four to five employees is affected by mental health issues every year.

School Administrators’ Perspectives on Labour Relations: Survey Results and Analysis

This report is based on a survey of school administrators in two regions of Ontario. It probes several areas, such as administrators' perspectives on the labour relations environment, the relationships between administrators and staff, the role of administrators in conflict management and dispute resolution, and the potential effectiveness of labour relations-focused professional development for school administrators and other education sector stakeholders.

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