The state of labour-management relations often tends to be assessed in terms of the number of strikes which occurs in the economy or in particular industries. This ignores the fact that strikes are in part a function of the number of settlements that are negotiated, which varies from year to year and from industry to industry, and the further fact that work stoppages are only one of several routes by which settlements occur. The range includes direct bargaining, conciliation, mediation, bargaining following conciliation or mediation, work stoppages, and occasionally mediation or arbitration following a work stoppage. Strains in collective bargaining, therefore, should be assessed in terms of the ease or difficulty with which settlements are achieved, as reflected in the incidence of different settlement methods.
This paper analyzes the methods by which settlements were arrived at in more than 1400 Ontario collective agreements during the years 1970-1973 and discusses some of the implications of these patterns. The analysis is based on information published jointly by the Federal and Ontario Departments of Labour, covering settlements involving more than 250 employees in industries other than construction. Included are settlements in federal administration, as well as a number of other settlements which, though they cover workers in Ontario, are in industries that come within the federal jurisdiction.