Queen's University IRC

Negotiation Skills

Developing Negotiating Styles and Tactics to Master the Dynamics of Collective Bargaining




If you are involved in collective bargaining, you know the complex and multi-layered dynamics at play. Whether you represent a business unit, government department, or union, you know that the organization’s strategic interests and priorities are tied to how well you do at the bargaining table. But can you implement more effective collective bargaining strategies that are true to your own style and the organization’s best interests? These and other important issues are explored in our intensive five-day Negotiation Skills program, which features expert instruction and on-the-spot coaching.


Apr 24 - Apr 29, 2022 Kingston Details will be provided after registration. Apr 21 $5,795
Sep 19 - Sep 23, 2022 Victoria Details will be provided after registration. Sep 15 $5,795
Nov 28 - Dec 02, 2022 Virtual Details will be provided after registration. Nov 25 $4,995




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Today’s negotiators require advanced skills and techniques to strategically resolve disputes and advance discussions for positive working relationships. This program gives you the tools and knowledge to expertly address labour relations issues and successfully negotiate both from a management and union perspective.

a) Understanding the Negotiation Process

The opening component of our program establishes the foundation on which new skills can be based. We draw the big picture in collective bargaining: what must the organization accomplish in the negotiation round, and what are the dynamics at play. We set the stage by:

  • Defining strategic negotiations
  • Teasing out the dynamics of power/rights/interests approaches
  • Identifying individual team and organizational capabilities

b) Building and Prepping the Negotiating

In preparation for your extended bargaining simulation later in the week, we explore how to create roles and responsibilities for effective team dynamics. We analyze bargaining dynamics as well, including intra-team, inter-team, and team-constituent bargaining.

c) Developing a Collective Bargaining Strategy

There are many crucial elements to consider in crafting a strategy for your bargaining round.

Here are several that are discussed:

  • Gathering and analyzing data
  • Determining the real issues and interests (yours and theirs)
  • Framing issues for productive dialogue
  • Gaining team agreement on priorities, strategies, tactics, and processes
  • Communicating with stakeholder groups
  • Formulating a bargaining mandate

d) Negotiation Simulation: Part 1

Here is your chance to practice what you have learned so far this week. The first part of the simulation gives your team an opportunity to identify bargaining priorities, formulate interests, and anticipate the other team’s interests to develop a foundation for moving forward. Begin to manage team dynamics by establishing roles and responsibilities, and gaining team agreement on strategies.

e) Introduction to Costing the Collective Agreement

This workshop is devoted to the art and science of costing the collective agreement. You get a template for costing the monetary and nonmonetary issues of your collective agreement, and apply the information to your ongoing simulation.

f) Negotiation Simulation: Part 2

After forming your opening statements, your team meets to negotiate effective pre-agreements on ground rules and process issues. Watch for possible turbulence in team dynamics.

g) The Union View of Bargaining

We ensure that our roster of coaches includes strong and experienced representatives of unions. In this spirited session they offer the union perspective, fielding your candid questions and satisfying your curiosity.

h) Negotiating to Agreement

There are a number of techniques to employ in order to reach a satisfactory bargaining conclusion.

Here are several that are explored:

  • Questioning skills for distinguishing interests from positions, exploring assumptions, and obtaining important information
  • Creating joint problem-solving statements
  • Negotiating without locking onto positions
  • Controlling destructive dynamics
  • Dealing with sources of resistance
  • Linking issues and solutions for effective resolution
  • Packaging and re-packaging offers

i) Negotiation Simulation: Parts 3 to 5

The negotiation simulation comes to a climax during this full day of bargaining. Do team members perform as advertised? Have you considered all the possible counter-proposals? Prepare to be surprised by the results.

j) Pre-Bargaining Rituals

The bargaining process is a bit like going to a dance: there are rituals, strategies, and tactics that play out beneath the surface.

In this section you will learn:

  • How to set the tone for productive bargaining
  • How to prepare and deliver an opening statement
  • How to negotiate pre-agreements on ground rules and meeting schedules
  • How to develop a joint bargaining process/agenda

k) Concluding the Agreement

Learn how to go from agreement in principle to agreement on specifics by:

  • Drafting contract language and checking for mutual understanding
  • Communicating with stakeholder groups to achieve agreement and ratification.
  • Reaching agreement on the entire package

Success is close at hand, but pay attention to details.

l) Large Group Debrief

With the intensity of the simulation melted away, it is time to take stock of the lessons learned and gather feedback from coaches. Begin to contemplate your role in future negotiations and how you will enhance the competitive position of your organization.  


Gary furlong

Lead Facilitator

Mercedes Watson

Lead Facilitator

Deborah Cooper


Deborah Cooper


Al Loyst

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Gary Furlong

Gary Furlong has extensive experience in labour mediation, alternative dispute resolution, negotiation, and conflict resolution.  Gary is past president of the ADR Institute of Ontario, is a Chartered Mediator (C. Med.) and holds his Master of Laws (ADR) from Osgoode Hall Law School.  Gary is the author of The Conflict Resolution Toolbox, John Wiley and Sons, Second Edition 2020; the co-author of BrainFishing: A Practice Guide to Questioning Skills, FriesenPress 2018;and The Sports Playbook, Routledge, 2018.

Gary has worked with the Queen’s University School of Industrial Relations conducting research into employment models of dispute resolution in Canadian companies. He teaches a number of labour-related courses at Queen’s University IRC, along with advanced mediation skills at York University.

In the labour area, Gary mediates collective agreements, grievances and labour board complaints for sectors as diverse as school boards, public health care, utilities, and airlines across Canada. Gary has delivered collective bargaining negotiation skills training for both management and union bargaining teams, bringing a strong focus of effective and collaborative skills to the table. Gary specializes in leading joint bargaining training for intact negotiation teams just prior to negotiations, with a focus on helping parties maximize joint gains at the table. In addition, Gary also conducts relationship building interventions to strengthen day-to-day union-management effectiveness away from bargaining.

Gary has worked with a wide range of organizations in the private sector, in the public sector with municipalities, provincial governments and the federal government, and with unions including Unifor, Teamsters, CUPE, ONA, OPSEU, IATSE and PSAC.

Gary was awarded the McGowan Award of Excellence by the ADR Institute of Canada. He is a graduate of Stanford University in California.


Mercedes Watson

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.

Deborah Cooper

Deborah Cooper is currently the General Secretary of the National Joint Council (NJC) of the Public Service of Canada. She is a union-side appointee to the position, having taken up the post in May 2013. The position is alternately held by employer side and bargaining agent side appointees. The NJC is a union-management organization that is the forum of choice for co-development and consultation between the parties within the federal public service. The NJC also manages numerous directives agreed to by the parties on items ranging from travel and relocation to the health care plan and the long-term disability plan.

Prior to this role, Deborah worked in private practice as an employment and labour lawyer, moving over to work in-house at two different federal bargaining agents in 2005 and 2009. From 2012-2013, she also worked on the employer side, on an interchange, as a Director in the Labour Relations and Compensation Division of a large federal department. Deborah has also worked in Paris, France at both UNESCO and the Canadian Embassy, and has lectured at the Barreau de Versailles. She holds an Honours Bachelor Degree from the University of Ottawa, a Law Degree from the University of Western Ontario, and is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, having been called to the Bar of Ontario in 1997.

Al Loyst

Al Loyst was a member of the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) for 45 years. This unprecedented tenure provided him with valuable insight into collective bargaining and the unionized landscape as it has adapted and transformed in Canada. As a result of the unique roles that Al held at General Motors (GM), he has been able to utilize his skills to play an integral role in assisting the membership in obtaining solid contracts and fair employment. Al’s lengthy career with GM has offered him the ability to see change through a variety of different positions such as “wellness coordinator” (with the transition of the truck plant, Al was instrumental in bargaining for a fitness centre), human-rights investigator and human-rights facilitator, service representative for the membership and team lead on a pilot project in a self-directed work group. Al retired in 2017, as the second longest serving GM employee in their history.

Al held elected positions (dating back to 1992) and worked tirelessly at the CAW to advocate on behalf of the members. Throughout his years of service, Al dealt with employee benefits, sick and accident E.I. compensation, and pensions. He took on roles such as strike coordinator (1997) and was an instrumental part of organizing a plant occupation, which led to a settlement and the sale of the plant to Peregrine Inc. Al was a member of many bargaining committees, one of which negotiated a transition agreement with GM and Peregrine. In 1998, he was elected district committee person and was later amongst the negotiating committee members that successfully negotiated the first collective agreement in 2000.

Throughout his career, Al has utilized both traditional and interest-focused bargaining and has seen the impact of both styles of bargaining and their long and short-term effects on organizational relationships and union/management interactions.

Al has been a long-standing trainer with the Queen’s IRC Negotiation Skills and Managing Unionized Environmentsprograms and has completed both his Organizational Development and Labour Relations Certificates through Queen’s IRC.

He undertakes training across the country and is called upon by union and management teams alike to share his experiences to enhance and shape union and management relations across a broad spectrum of workplaces in the private, public, government and not for profit sectors.