The Grievance Procedure: The Heart of the Collective Agreement

Learn how a strategic grievance procedure can improve labour management relations. This current issues paper explores the four key roles of a grievance procedure, secondary roles, and how solid procedure facilitates conflict management and dispute resolution.

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Shifting from Traditional to Mutual Gains Bargaining: Implementing Change in Canada

The significant transformation of the Canadian economy and system of production in the past decade has not left the industrial relations system untouched. Managers and union leaders have become more and more aware of their interdependence and vulnerability, through their experience of plant closings, layoffs, loss of market share and technological obsolescence. Does the lower level of labour strife mean that parties are biding their time and expecting the good old days to return? Or are we witnessing deeper, more lasting changes in how we determine working conditions and manage human resources? The great majority of researchers and practitioners seem to agree that current economic and labour market transformations are structural rather than merely cyclical in nature.

Despite significant changes in how labour contracts are reached, the adversarial process which characterizes traditional collective bargaining remains predominant. Collective bargaining is still the cornerstone of our system of union-management relations. It has a profound impact on the climate in the workplace, which in turn significantly influences a firm’s productivity and competitiveness (Grant and Harvey 1993). Many participatory devices have been introduced in the workplace, but the pace of innovation is much slower at the bargaining table, where distributive tactics still prevail, as manifested in win-lose and we-us approaches on the part of negotiators. However, the idea of mutual-gains bargaining (MGB) is being examined by an increasing number of people who are preoccupied with the survival and adaptation of collective bargaining.

Before looking at the conditions favouring the shift from adversarial to more cooperative bargaining tactics, we must examine why traditional bargaining is being called into question. We will begin at the analytical and theoretical level, to provide a conceptual tool for policymaking and strategy formulation by those who seek innovative union-management relations. Our discussion will then move on to describe how some negotiators have tried to make the transition from traditional bargaining to MGB. This description is based on interviews and round-table discussions with practitioners, and on the experience that members of our group in Quebec have had as trainers and facilitators since 1993.

MGB is based on the parties’ awareness of their interdependence and on their willingness to probe core and common interests in order to reach win-win agreements as they search for solutions to common problems. MGB requires more cooperative attitudes from bargainers, and it calls for integrative tactics. However, there are major obstacles on the road to MGB, rooted in the long-standing, built-in assumptions and role definitions of the experts and activists involved in collective bargaining. We must look at MGB from the moment it is planned and designed, and we must ask what are the best conditions for implementing and sustaining it.

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Freedom of Religion in the Workplace: Legislative Protection

Current Human Rights legislation protects workers from discrimination on a number of grounds including religion. This paper looks at the history of legislation prohibiting discrimination and reviews current legislation to determine how freedom of religion is protected in the workplace. Precedents from discrimination cases are outlined to give an indication of how cases are currently being settled. Finally, the paper looks at cases concerning freedom of religion in the workplace over the past fifteen years to assess whether the legislation is in use and is effective.

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The Rise of Industrial Unionism in Canada – A History of the CIO

This paper was written from the perspective of Don Taylor, who was able to work in every part of Canada with union people – both leaders and members – many of whom had been involved in the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) from its beginnings in this country. He felt that there were too few written memoirs of the experiences of those whose deeds didn’t conform to accepted heroic traditions or dramatic conventions, but who enjoyed the great privilege of working for a good cause in pursuit of noble principles.

This monograph relies upon sound historical sources for verification of facts and events. It attempts, as well, to capture something of the evangelical spirit which propelled this grass roots movement and enabled it to accomplish so many unprecedented improvements in the status of working people.

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Two Tier Wage Systems

The purpose of this paper is to examine in more detail the nature and scope of two-tier wage systems in a Canadian context. The plan of the paper is as follows: first, it will examine the form which two-tier settlements have taken and provide some data on their prevalence. Second, it will examine possible legal implications of two-tier agreements, and in particular, whether a union which agrees to a lower wage rate for new hires risks violating its duty of fair representation. The final section assesses the long-term viability of two-tier wage systems.

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Settlement Methods in Ontario Collective Bargaining 1970-1973

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.

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The Development and Enforcement of the Collective Agreement

The collective agreement is the basic corner-stone of collective bargaining in North America. From its beginning the problem of making the provisions of collective agreements binding on the parties who entered into them has been a major concern of unions, employers, employees and increasingly of public authorities. This volume, one of the Centre’s Research Series, traces in depth the historical development of procedures in Canada for the enforcement of collective agreement provisions. The main emphasis is upon those methods developed by Canadian legislatures to provide orderly means of enforcement and thus contribute to a greater stability of union-management relations.

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