An Investigation Into the Collective Bargaining Relationship Between the NHL and the NHLPA, 1994 – 2005

This paper provides analysis into the workings of the collective agreement that governed the relationship between the National Hockey League and its Players’ Association. By examining the elements and processes of the collective agreement, the nature of negotiation, and the roles of agents, owners, general managers, and arbitrators, it shows how significant increases in player compensation that occurred over a ten-year period set the stage for the 2004-05 negotiations and season-long lockout.

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Labour Law Leads the Way

Labour relations has always played a leadership role in Canada. Businesses and unions represent vital interests in our communities.

Their interactions have set many of the important ground rules by which we live. This is because work and work opportunities are central to us all. It is upon businesses or jobs that we build our lives. The content of labour law is therefore very telling about a society and its direction.

I thought it might be therapeutic, if not instructive, to reflect on this leadership role.

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Alternative Dispute Resolution

Where once Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) referred to an alter­native to the courts, ADR in the field of labour relations is increasingly being referred to as an alternative to arbitration. The objectives of ADR and the newly emerging Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) are to settle disputes prior to having to go to binding arbitration over which the parties have little control. ADR and IDR are recognized as giving the parties greater direct voice in fashioning remedies and more timely settlements.

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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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Mutual Gains Bargaining: A Case Study of Northern Telecom & the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

This study examines the case of Northern Telecom & the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) Union of Canada. The authors look at the North York Plant’s 1993 and 1995 negotiations, and examine what can be learned from these negotiations. What conditions are conducive to the introduction of mutual gains bargaining and what approaches can be taken to ensure the success of the process? How can unions and management can significantly change the way they work together and sustain it for the mutual benefit of all who have an interest in the outcome?

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Canadian Labour’s Response to Work Reorganization

This paper was presented at the Annual Conference of the Canadian Industrial Relations Association, Carleton University, Ottawa on June 3-5, 1993. The paper is based on a larger study of the role of unions and collective bargaining in human resource innovations undertaken by the author as a part of a research project on Human Resource Management in Canada under the auspices of Industrial Relations Centre, Queen’s University.

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Negotiation: Why Do We Do It Like We Do?

As a labour lawyer and a professor of labour law, George Adams mediated many disputes over the years. As a new member of the Ontario Court of Justice, he shared his views on the negotiation process with respect to the competitive challenges facing the workplace. He in presented this paper in May 1992 at the Annual Spring Industrial Relations Seminar.

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