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Mercedes Watson, MA, BFA, C.Med. IMI, is the CEO of Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services, a non-profit, multi-site, multi sector agency providing over sixty programs to those most vulnerable in Toronto’s downtown east with a mission to create lasting solutions to end poverty, social injustices, and isolation. Dixon Hall has been offering its services since 1929 and has a staff of over 300, many of whom are represented by CUPE local 2497, and focuses on the following services: seniors, housing and homelessness, employment, children and youth, and a celebrated music school.
Prior to taking on her role with Dixon Hall, Mercedes served as Senior Strategist and Founder of a boutique-consulting firm, Thought Department Inc. A portion of her consulting practice focused on labour relations issues as they related to mediation, negotiations and workplace facilitations. She is a regular facilitator at Queen’s IRC where she provides her expertise to core courses (Negotiation Skills, Strategic Grievance Handling and Managing Unionized Environments) and travels throughout Canada and the West Indies (Cave Hill School of Business and Management, Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business) on behalf of Queen’s IRC to deliver customized training to organizations and their union and/or management groups.
In addition to both a theoretical and practical understanding of culture, conflict management styles and analysis tools, her understanding of organizational change and change management has enhanced the effectiveness of her restorative work in organizations across the country. Her unique experience of being a lead negotiator on the management side as well as the union side allows her to more effectively assist and understand workplace issues.
From 1997 to 2010, Mercedes was the Chief Negotiator and Chief Executive Officer for the Union of British Columbia Performers (UBCP/ACTRA), the Director for the ACTRA Performers’ Rights Society (APRS) and the Recording Artists Collecting Society (RACS) all unionized workplaces. In her capacity as Chief Negotiator and Chief Executive Officer she led numerous international, multi-party contract negotiations, most notably with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents over 350 motion picture and televisions producers, predominantly the major studios in the United States. With UBCP/ACTRA she was also lead negotiator for management negotiations with the employee bargaining unit represented by the Canadian Auto Workers (Unifor). Preceding her work with UBCP/ACTRA, Ms. Watson was the Director for ACTRA PRS and RACS, managing unionized staff represented by the United Steelworkers and Canadian Office and Professional Employees (COPE). In her current capacity, and while with UBCP/ACTRA and ACTRA PRS she was responsible for terminations, discipline matters, privacy issues, workplace health and safety, mediations, arbitrations and human rights related matters. Together with Kenda L. Murphy, LLB, Mercedes co-edited the instructor training materials for Industrial Relations in Canada, Fourth Edition (2015, Fiona McQuarrie, John Wiley & Sons).
Mercedes holds a Master of Arts in Conflict Analysis and Management from Royal Roads University’s School of Peace and Conflict Management (MA) where her research focused on alternate dispute resolution systems and conflict management within complex organizational settings. She is a Chartered Mediator (C.Med) with an International Mediation Designation (IMI), serves on the roster of mediators for the government of Ontario and has been a member of the ADRIO C.Med Skills Assessment Committee since 2011.