3 Credits

Managing Unionized Environments

Living the collective agreement.
A person "holding" a group of five people in one hand, and one "person" in the other.

Upcoming Sessions


Program Overview

Living the Collective Agreement

Collective bargaining may get all the attention of the outside world but smart, day-to-day relationship management determines the effectiveness of managers and unionized workers. It is the ongoing resolution of issues and problems that arise daily that will either create a culture of success or one of resistance and fear. In this skills-building program designed for both supervisors and union representatives, the use and application of the collective agreement is placed into an intensely practical context.

Program Details

Learn both management and union best practices on challenging issues such as discipline, performance management, and job competition. Develop interest-based skills to help eliminate positional behaviour and engage difficult people, be they managers or workers. Reduce friction arising from the daily interpretation of the collective labour agreement. Start using the collective agreement as a platform for productivity and achievement.

a) Interests, Rights, and Power

We first distinguish three related yet distinct concepts in how all of us approach problem solving:

  • A focus on interests, which calls for engaging, motivating, and coaching
  • A focus on rights, which involves setting boundaries, rights, and obligations
  • A focus on power, which calls for discipline, accountability, and enforcement of boundaries

Understanding the distinctions, and knowing when and how to pull on each of these levers, is a crucial initial learning. How can managers and union representatives effectively use these processes? How can you get management’s attention on important issues?

We then do a deep dive into interests, using the Triangle of Satisfaction as a means to understand three types of interests. This will help you to better diagnose people’s behaviour in the workplace and resolve workplace issues. In many cases, union representatives are focused on one set of these interests, while managers are focused on a completely different area, often leading to frustration. Managers and union reps will learn how to engage on the full range of key interests.

b) Understanding Human Rights in the Workplace

With the help of a case study, we examine the law, rights, and obligations governing the workplace, with a focus on both human rights legislation as well as recent developments, such as Ontario’s Bill 168. We work through the following themes:

  • How to recognize harassment and discrimination
  • The DNA of a poisoned work environment
  • How to manage issues that arise related to harassment
  • How managing performance is related to human rights in the workplace
  • What obligations that management and unions have in relation to human rights issues.

In this module, learn how to work effectively to build trust in the unionized environment, and how to apply power without causing long-term problems. Participate in a spirited discussion of the union’s role in building and maintaining a productive work environment.

c) Dissecting the Collective Agreement

You’ll learn all about the laws, rights, and obligations embedded in collective agreements that touch all parties. What are the key provisions and hot spots in the collective labour agreement that front-line managers need to know?

You’ll also be briefed on the grievance process. What is the front-line’s role in this process? What is the anatomy of a grievance? What are the best interventions from both a management and union perspective?

You’ll have an opportunity to identify the key areas for your own collective agreement, and develop strategies for starting to address those issues.

d) Managing Relations in the Unionized Environment

In this module, learn how to work effectively to build trust in the unionized environment, and how to apply power without causing long-term problems. Participate in a spirited discussion of the union’s role in building and maintaining a productive work environment.

e) Applying Key Interest-Based Skills – The Dynamics of Trust

Even when working with “rights” and “power”, you still need to engage people and build productive and sustainable workplace relationships. Trust is a key component of every relationship, workplaces included. What creates and builds trust, both on a personal and impersonal level? When trust is low or broken, what can help repair and rebuild it? How do we weave trust into everything we do, even when not everyone is getting what they want?

You’ll be given a clear and easy-to-implement template for building and managing trust in the workplace.

Build your skills in:

  • Eliminating positional behaviour
  • Effective listening in search of the “why”
  • Reality testing to engage difficult staff and effect change
  • Working effectively with difficult managers and members
f) Managing and Applying Discipline

When done properly, what does progressive discipline look like? How do you set boundaries that are respected? If you’re a front-line manager, how do you gather the facts and conduct a disciplinary meeting? When does the Human Resources department need to be brought in?

In addition, you’ll learn the best way to represent a member in the discipline process. What is best for the member, and the membership? How do you sell a result to the member that he or she may not like?

g) Performance Management that Works

Improving the performance of workers involves insight and a number of skills. Motivations need to be understood. Expectations need to be set collaboratively. In this module, learn how to:

  • Set expectations
  • Give feedback that is heard
  • Execute on the maxim, “Gentle pressure, relentlessly applied”.
h) The View from the Union Hall

Hear the union perspective on discipline, performance management, and seniority.

  • What does the union look for in “good” supervisors?
  • Union duty to represent – goals and limits

Learning Outcomes

Learning Objectives
  • Identify the hot spots of collective agreements and how to address them effectively
  • Employ the appropriate processes and approaches that will support the integrity of the collective labour agreement
  • Set expectations and give feedback that will build trust with management and motivate workers
Organizational Benefits
  • Stronger labour management relations to enhance competitive capabilities
  • Aligned labour relations systems that promote worker satisfaction and high performance
  • Poised and well-grounded responses to the changing face of labour law and legal issues
  • Reduced time and costs spent on grievance arbitration
  • Better understanding of how shop stewards and managers shape the union-management dynamic

Who Should Attend

Supervisors and Managers

Discover how to enhance worker satisfaction and high performance.

Union Representatives

Facilitators and Speakers

Takeaway Tools

  • Practical conflict management tools such as the Dynamics of Building Trust and the Triangle of Satisfaction

Thought Leadership

Stay ahead of trends in your career with articles and papers written by industry experts.

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