Managing Unionized Environments | Queen's University IRC

Queen's University IRC

Queen's University

Managing Unionized Environments

LR 100
3 Credits

Living the Collective Agreement

Collective bargaining may get all the attention of the outside world but smart, day-to-day relationship management determines the effectiveness of managers and unionized workers. It is the ongoing resolution of issues and problems that arise daily that will either create a culture of success or one of resistance and fear. In this skills-building program designed for both supervisors and union representatives, the use and application of the collective agreement is placed into an intensely practical context.

Learn both management and union best practices on challenging issues such as discipline, performance management, and job competition. Develop interest-based skills to help eliminate positional behaviour and engage difficult people, be they managers or workers. Reduce friction arising from the daily interpretation of the collective labour agreement. Start using the collective agreement as a platform for productivity and achievement.

Tour of the Program

a) Interests, Rights, and Power

We first distinguish three related yet distinct concepts in how all of us approach problem solving:

  • A focus on interests, which calls for engaging, motivating, and coaching
  • A focus on rights, which involves setting boundaries, rights, and obligations
  • A focus on power, which calls for discipline, accountability, and enforcement of boundaries

Understanding the distinctions, and knowing when and how to pull on each of these levers, is a crucial initial learning. How can managers and union representatives effectively use these processes? How can you get management's attention on important issues?

We then do a deep dive into interests, using the Triangle of Satisfaction as a means to understand three types of interests. This will help you to better diagnose people's behaviour in the workplace and resolve workplace issues. In many cases, union representatives are focused on one set of these interests, while managers are focused on a completely different area, often leading to frustration. Managers and union reps will learn how to engage on the full range of key interests.

b) Understanding Human Rights in the Workplace

With the help of a case study, we examine the law, rights, and obligations governing the workplace, with a focus on both human rights legislation as well as recent developments, such as Ontario's Bill 168. We work through the following themes:

  • How to recognize harassment and discrimination
  • The DNA of a poisoned work environment
  • How to manage issues that arise related to harassment
  • How managing performance is related to human rights in the workplace
  • What obligations that management and unions have in relation to human rights issues

c) Dissecting the Collective Agreement

You'll learn all about the laws, rights, and obligations embedded in collective agreements that touch all parties. What are the key provisions and hot spots in the collective labour agreement that front-line managers need to know?

You'll also be briefed on the grievance process. What is the front-line's role in this process? What is the anatomy of a grievance? What are the best interventions from both a management and union perspective?

You'll have an opportunity to identify the key areas for your own collective agreement, and develop strategies for starting to address those issues.

d) Managing Relations in the Unionized Environment

In this module, learn how to work effectively to build trust in the unionized environment, and how to apply power without causing long-term problems. Participate in a spirited discussion of the union's role in building and maintaining a productive work environment.

e) Applying Key Interest-Based Skills – The Dynamics of Trust

Even when working with "rights" and "power", you still need to engage people and build productive and sustainable workplace relationships. Trust is a key component of every relationship, workplaces included. What creates and builds trust, both on a personal and impersonal level? When trust is low or broken, what can help repair and rebuild it? How do we weave trust into everything we do, even when not everyone is getting what they want?

You'll be given a clear and easy-to-implement template for building and managing trust in the workplace.

Build your skills in:

  • Eliminating positional behaviour
  • Effective listening in search of the "why"
  • Reality testing to engage difficult staff and effect change
  • Working effectively with difficult managers and members

f) Managing and Applying Discipline

When done properly, what does progressive discipline look like? How do you set boundaries that are respected? If you're a front-line manager, how do you gather the facts and conduct a disciplinary meeting? When does the Human Resources department need to be brought in?

In addition, you'll learn the best way to represent a member in the discipline process. What is best for the member, and the membership? How do you sell a result to the member that he or she may not like?

g) Performance Management that Works

Improving the performance of workers involves insight and a number of skills. Motivations need to be understood. Expectations need to be set collaboratively. In this module, learn how to:

  • Set expectations
  • Give feedback that is heard
  • Execute on the maxim, "Gentle pressure, relentlessly applied"

h) The View from the Union Hall

Hear the union perspective on discipline, performance management, and seniority.

  • What does the union look for in "good" supervisors?
  • Union duty to represent – goals and limits

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this program, you will be better positioned to:

  • Identify the hot spots of collective agreements and how to address them effectively
  • Employ the appropriate processes and approaches that will support the integrity of the collective labour agreement
  • Set expectations and give feedback that will build trust with management and motivate workers


Organizational and Union Benefits

  • Stronger labour management relations to enhance competitive capabilities
  • Aligned labour relations systems that promote worker satisfaction and high performance
  • Poised and well-grounded responses to the changing face of labour law and legal issues
  • Reduced time and costs spent on grievance arbitration
  • Better understanding of how shop stewards and managers shape the union-management dynamic  

Takeaway Tools

  • Practical conflict management tools such as the Dynamics of Building Trust and the Triangle of Satisfaction

Who Should Attend

Supervisors and managers who oversee unionized staff, as well as union officials, shop stewards, and others who represent workers.

Facilitators and Speakers

Lead Facilitator(s)

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, 2005; the co-author of The Construction Dispute Resolution Handbook, Lexis Nexis 2004; 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...

Read the full bio for Gary Furlong

Guest Speaker(s)

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-...

Read the full bio for Al Loyst

Leanne Gray

Leanne Gray graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Toronto specializing in Psychology and Human Behaviour. She later pursued a post-graduate certificate in Human Resources and received her Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation, now titled Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL). Leanne has been trained and certified in Advanced Dispute Resolution and is a qualified mediator.

Leanne has held positions requiring strong labour relations acumen, having consulted in the manufacturing sector and now working in the dynamic labour environment of a government organization.  In prior years, as Director of Human Resources, she led Human Resources departments in...

Read the full bio for Leanne Gray

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...

Read the full bio for Mercedes Watson

*The roster of speakers is subject to change.

Venues and Accommodations

Feb 23-26, 2021 (11:30am-5pm ET): Virtual Seat

Queen’s IRC will deliver this program virtually, via Zoom, and all participants will attend the program live as it happens. Plan to use video, as appropriate, and have a dedicated working space to participate and engage with the class.

Sep 14-17, 2021 (11:30am-5pm ET): Virtual Seat

Queen’s IRC will deliver this program virtually, via Zoom, and all participants will attend the program live as it happens. Plan to use video, as appropriate, and have a dedicated working space to participate and engage with the class.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I register for a program?

You can register online, call us toll-free at 1-888-858-7838, or email us at Once you register, we will send you a confirmation by email. Information about the program location, check-in time, and the agenda will follow.

How do I pay for the program?

If you are registering online, you may pay by Visa or MasterCard.  You may also choose to be invoiced first, and pay by cheque (payable to Queen's University) or credit card. You may also wish to call us with your credit card number to make the payment.

If your organization is tax exempt, we will require a copy of your tax exemption certificate.

Do you offer discounts?

Yes. We offer an Early-Bird discount.  If you register 60 days before the start of a program, you will save $300 on the tuition of four- and five-day programs, and $150 on two- and three-day programs.

If you register three people from the same organization in the same program at the same time, you will receive a 10% discount on program fees. If you register five or more people in the same program at the same time, you will receive a 20% discount.

If you know you will be pursuing a Queen's Certificate and would like to remit tuition in one payment before your first program, we offer a special fee with a considerable saving. Contact us at for more information.

Please note that only one discount may be applied.

What is included in the registration fee?

Program fees include tuition, workbook materials, lunches, and some dinners. You are responsible for transportation, accommodation, and some meals.

Once I enroll in a program, may I cancel without penalty?

Substitutions are permitted with no penalty 8 days or more from the program start date.
Substitutions 7 days or less before the program start date will be subject to a $500 charge.
Transfers and cancellations are permitted with no penalty up to 15 days prior to the program start date.
Transfers and cancellations 14 days or less from the program start date will be subject to a 100% charge of the program fee.

Where does the program take place?

Our programs typically take place at a hotel. This information can be found in the tab above, called Venue and Accommodations.

I would like to make my travel plans.  What are the start and end times for the program?

Managing Unionized Environments starts at 8:30 a.m. on the first day. (Registration runs from 8:00 - 8:30 a.m.)

The program finishes at 3:00 p.m. on the last day.

If I am working towards a Queen's IRC Certificate, which course should I take first?

You may take the programs in any order that reflects your learning needs at the time. Our certificates feature a core program or programs that introduce you to what we consider the core competencies of the field. The remaining programs offer a deeper exploration of each area. For this reason, we find that participants in the certificate stream benefit most by taking the foundational program first.

My level of expertise is above the foundational program for the certificate I am working on. Do I still need to take that program to earn a certificate?

Queen's IRC offers participants maximum flexibility to customize their individual training needs. Upon request, participants with advanced expertise may skip the foundational program, and choose another program from our entire program lineup, for credit towards a certificate. Participants must earn 12 credits to earn a certificate.

How long do I have to complete a certificate?

We attach no timeline for achieving your certificate. Once you have earned a credit, you have earned the credit. We do recommend, however, that participants complete their certificate within one to six years. Most people earn their certificates within three years.

What if I want to take one of your programs but do not want to pursue a certificate?

That's fine. All of our programs may be taken individually, and you can mix and match the courses in labour relations, human resources and organization development, depending on your learning needs. At the conclusion of each program, you are given a certificate of completion.

I have taken a custom program with the IRC.  Will this count towards a certificate?

Yes. Participants who take an IRC custom program may also use their training days as credits towards a certificate.

If I have other questions, who may I speak with personally?

For a program registration query, please feel free to call us at 1-888-858-7838 or 613-533-6628. To reach the Director and staff members, consult our online directory. To reach one of our facilitators, please contact Stephanie Noel at 613-533-6000 ext. 77088 or