Queen's University IRC

Union and Management

Best Practices for Returning to the Workplace

Best Practices for Returning to the Workplace

There are many unanswered questions about Canadian workplaces as we look toward reopening offices. The well-established principles and guidelines that employers, unions and employees have followed for many years will certainly help navigate this process. That said, this pandemic takes us into new and uniquely uncharted waters that may well shift some or all of these principles as we move forward. This article will look at the frameworks in place today, as well as best practices for boldly going where few workplaces have gone before.

Relationship Management in a Union Environment

Relationship Management in a Union Environment

Building relationships in the workplace is hard – and it takes work. It’s even more difficult when you work in a unionized organization which has traditionally adversarial relationships. But these days, organizations like the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF/FEESO) are stepping away from the attitude that, as a union, you have to be in ‘fight mode’ all the time. They are working towards accomplishing more for their members by trying to have better relationships with management. This is where the Queen’s IRC Relationship Management in a Union Environment program comes in.

The Path to Success for Organized Labour

The Path to Success for Organized Labour

Labour unions are at a critical time in history. Unions are working to engage the current membership and exploring new innovative communication strategies that are needed to reach the younger generation in a meaningful way. Gone are the days of the bulletin board as the primary sources of union news and updates.

The Future of Labour

The Future of Labour

The labour movement in Canada has a long and proud history of success and positive community involvement. Throughout the years however, union membership levels across North America have been on a steady decline.  Many would argue the decline in the ranks of unions is attributed to stronger labour laws protecting workers, less interest by the young workers entering the workforce and a more transient workforce demanding flexibility and merit over seniority.

There is No Cookie Cutter Approach to Labour Relations

There is No Cookie Cutter Approach to Labour Relations

As an HR professional or senior leader, you spend years mastering the labour relations fundamentals.  Not the textbook fundamentals, but the behaviours, the actions, communication styles–the way you handle sensitive situations.  You log numerous failures, like the time you told the union that the grievance was invalid because they used red ink, the time you were new and mistook a seasoned union employee for a manager and accidentally told them your grievance strategy.

Our Continuing Need to Teach

Human Rights and Human Wrongs: Our Continuing Need to Teach

Francine had been disciplined before. She had been suspended for 3 days, for an angry outburst that she had in the shipping department. But this time was worse. Francine was in the cafeteria, finishing her break. Three co-workers sat down at the same table, and within minutes she began yelling and swearing at them. One of them began talking to her, trying to quiet her down. She threw her cup of tea in his face, and then left the room. Francine was terminated. The letter of termination cited the company anti-violence and harassment policies.

A Collective Bargaining Success Story

Improve Your Negotiation Outcome By Learning Something New: A Collective Bargaining Success Story

Most people are familiar with the old adage that defines true insanity as doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result.  Then why, in labour relations, do we continue using the same processes and methods that have not yielded positive results for us in the past?  Well, some parties have learned this lesson and are trying new approaches in their search for win-win outcomes of negotiation.

Strategic Grievance Management in Today’s Unionized Environment

Strategic Grievance Management in Today’s Unionized Environment

The word “strategic” gets thrown around pretty loosely these days – it’s one of those business buzz words meant to instill confidence that we’ve thought this through and it’s all under control: trust us, we’ve got a strategic plan! But there’s more to it than just calling something “strategic”. The term “strategic” implies there is a thoughtful, organized strategy guiding your efforts; that a particular issue has been viewed in the broader context and your decision to proceed is based on the impacts that decision will have across the organization

HR Reporter roundtable - Peter Edwards, Bill Murnighan, Elaine Newman and Anna Goldfinch

Young Workers and the Union Movement in Canada

Many young workers don't feel connected to the labour movement. They see it as a relic from previous generations, something that may have helped their parents but isn't helping them, and something that might even be preventing them from obtaining good jobs.  So what can unions do to win over young workers? This question was discussed at a recent roundtable discussion on the future of unions in the private sector hosted by the Canadian HR Reporter, and sponsored by Queen's IRC.

How can unions overcome their PR problem?

The Future of Unions in Canada’s Private Sector: How Can Unions Overcome their PR Problem?

Unions face many negative perceptions, such as the notion that union workers are lazy, under worked, have job security for life, and enjoy gold-plated benefits and pension packages that others can only dream about. In light of this, how can unions overcome their PR problem? This question was one of many that was put to a panel of labour relations practitioners and experts recently, at a roundtable discussion sponsored by Queen's IRC, and hosted by the Canadian HR Reporter.

Implementing an Interest-Focused Collective Bargaining Strategy

Implementing an Interest-Focused Collective Bargaining Strategy

I was a professional Fire Fighter in the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), for many years before I got directly involved as a member of our Local's negotiating team. Although I was always interested in our Association's activities, and I regularly attended meetings, I never considered myself "involved-enough" to run for any committee or executive position for those first 15 years of my career.

Queen's University in Kingston, ON

Training Employees is Key to Effective Union-Management Relationships

For practitioners in Queen's University's Human Resources (HR) department, the past two years have brought about a number of changes in the way they do their jobs. Two years ago, there were four union contracts at the University, and today, the tenth contract is being negotiated. With about 80% of the University's employees now unionized, Al Orth, Associate Vice-Principal (Human Resources) at Queen's University, says the environment has changed significantly.
 

Holistic Surgery for the Infected Workplace

The Peer Circle: Holistic Surgery for the Infected Workplace

Jean passed the talking piece to Kimberly. You could see her shoulders straighten, a deep intake of breath, a glance around the circle of her assembled colleagues. She was steeling herself to say what was difficult but necessary. Kimberly explained that, for her, the constant putting down of customers and negativity around workplace conditions was unacceptable and made it difficult to enjoy and take pride in her work.

Cultivating Effective Management-Union Relationships in the Unionized Workplace

Cultivating Effective Management-Union Relationships in the Unionized Workplace

In almost all organizations today, both public and private sector, managers are looking to deliver better results and greater productivity. And within these same organizations, the union is often seen as a barrier to management effectively achieving these goals. From the union's point of view, management views the collective agreement as an impediment to achieving results, leading to frequent violations of the collective agreement.

Getting Along With the Union

How can human resources professionals bargain and build meaningful relationships with the union during tough economic times? In her recent presentation at Queen’s IRC’s Labour Relations Foundations program, Ontario Nurses’ Association President Linda Haslam-Stroud provided sound advice for signing off on successful collective agreements. In the following excerpts from her talk, Linda shares her top …

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Whither Unionism: Current State and Future Prospects of Union Renewal in Canada

Trends and pattern of union membership and density as well as organizing activity are clear signs of stagnation and complacency in the labour movement. While some unions are doing better than others, the labour movement as a whole appears to be at standstill. It is also evident that there does not appear to be any …

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Will the Unionized Workplace Attract and Retain New Talent?

Do unionized organizations in British Columbia face a greater challenge attracting and retaining new post-secondary graduates? Does the often adversarial nature of the union-management relationship translate into a culture that is perceived as negative and inconsistent with Gen X-Y workplace values? To what extent does a perceived negative workplace culture affect their decision to join …

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Strategic Negotiations: Perspectives from a Road Well-Travelled

The Don Wood Lecture in Industrial Relations was established by friends of W. Donald Wood to honour his outstanding contribution to Canadian industrial relations. Dr Wood was Director of the Industrial Relations Centre from 1960 to 1985, and the first Director of the School of Industrial Relations, established in 1983. The lecture brings to Queen’s …

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The State of the Union Movement in Canada: The Challenges We Face and the Innovations We Must Undertake

The Don Wood Lecture in Industrial Relations was established by friends of W. Donald Wood to honour his outstanding contribution to Canadian industrial relations. Dr Wood was Director of the Industrial Relations Centre from 1960 to 1985, and the first Director of the School of Industrial Relations, established in 1983. The lecture brings to Queen’s …

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