Strategic Grievance Handling
Developing Techniques and Processes to Strategically Prevent and Manage Grievances
The number of outstanding grievances is one of the most telling indicators of the state of labour relations in a unionized environment. Considering legal costs, damage to labour-management relationships and reduced productivity, grievances can also be very expensive for both employers and unions. Like taxes, grievances are a part of the unionized workplace but many can be avoided and strategic practitioners can play a role in reducing their frequency. There are measures that can be taken before grievances are launched. There are steps that you can take during the grievance procedure, during mediation and in advance of the arbitration process to lessen the impact on employees, the union, and the organization. That’s where this program comes in.
Strategic grievance handling is a thoughtful approach to labour relations. It involves identifying workplace-wide issues or problems, then analyzing the way in which proactive individual grievance management can address those issues. A long-term goal can then be developed for solving the systemic issues. You will come away from this program with the big-picture perspective, as well as some skills that you can use back at work to confidently handle all steps in the grievance process.
a) The Rules of the Road
Much of the grievance process is grounded in law, so that's where we start. In no time, you'll gain an understanding of the basic legal foundation as well as these topics:
- What is a grievance?
- How is it linked to collective bargaining?
- What are the typical boundaries and scope of a grievance?
- Which sorts of outcomes are predictable?
- When can a grievance be reviewed?
b) Conflict Escalation and Containment
There's both art and science involved in recognizing, assessing, and preventing conflict from escalating into a formal grievance. Learn to identify the stages in conflict escalation and acquire the techniques for controlling conflict. Come away with a practical five-stage conflict escalation model with immediate practical benefit for reducing workplace "temperature." Best of all, test your understanding of this tool in a scripted scenario and, in a safe workshop setting, discuss methods of intervention.
c) Case Studies: Learning From Decisions
Working in small groups you’ll compare your judgment using real-life cases against actual decisions made by arbitrators, and utilize these decisions to start developing your own strategic insights. You’ll hear from participants about their workplace issues and work in table groups to re-think approaches to current or pending grievance scenarios
Hear the story about how an "ordinary" grievance process contributed to a workplace tragedy.
- What creative solutions were developed to work through these situations?
- What was learned?
- How has legislation and workplace policies changed?
- How can each of us translate these lessons into practical applications in our own workplaces?
d) How to be a Strong Advocate
The basis of effective grievance handling consists of thorough preparation and solid advocacy, communication, and negotiating skills. In this session, you’ll learn:
- How to prepare for grievance meetings
- The benefits of information sharing
- How to apply strategic analysis of grievances for early resolution
- How to negotiate at grievance meetings
Join the session leader in discussions on key issues and questions that inevitably arise:
- What information should or should not be revealed at early stages?
- What should the grieving party or supervisor say and do in grievance meetings?
- Which types of negotiating strategies can be employed during grievance meetings?
- What is the best way to communicate for maximum impact?
e) Following the Mediation and Arbitration Routes
Grievance mediation and arbitration each demand a specific skill-set and understanding. Learn — and practice through simulations — the difference between the two in role plays. You are asked to take on a role and, guided by confidential information, play out a scenario that will be resolved through both the mediation and arbitration processes. Get on-the-spot coaching along the way.
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of grievance mediation and arbitration?
- When would you choose either process?
- When would you make a process shift, and move from one process to the other?
- How should you make that shift?
f) Feeding the Collective Agreement
Strategic grievance handling inevitably translates into strategic labour relations. In this closing session, we make the connection to not only the workplace dynamics but to the all-important bargaining relationship and review the processes that nurture these relationships.
- What are the best practices in tracking grievances, and how does your handling of them impact the bargaining process?
- Why do we choose to go to arbitration and how can we improve the process when negotiating collective agreements?
- What are the economic realities of grievance mediation or arbitration?
By the end of this four-day program, you will be better positioned to:
- Diagnose when and how conflict escalates
- Understand the context and purpose of a grievance
- Consider your options both before and when a grievance is filed
- Prepare for and take control of the grievance meeting
- Deploy your skills more effectively during the grievance process
- Strategically choose mediation or arbitration as an option for resolution
- Conduct a grievance analysis before a round of collective bargaining
- How strategy can feed a positive relationship cycle
Organizational and Union Benefits
- Enhanced in-house capacity to handle grievances
- Reduced time and legal costs spent on arbitration
- Poised and well-grounded responses to changing labour laws and legal issues
- Well-grounded positions going into collective bargaining
- Five-Stage Conflict Escalation Model
- Grievance Preparation Checklist
- Insights into planning personal or workplace strategies for prevention of grievances
Supervisors and managers who oversee unionized staff as well as union officials, shop stewards, and others who represent workers.
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
Carol De Rosie is a Registered Nurse who spent most of her adult life in Toronto working at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre where she worked in Oncology. As an active staff member, Carol sat on numerous hospital committees through the years including the Diversity, Ethics, Fiscal Advisory, and Nursing Advisory.
Carol held positions with the Ontario Nurses Association, Local 80 as: Grievance Officer, First Vice President, and for 10 years, full time President. During those years she led complicated negotiations during hospital restructuring, and managed grievances, arbitrations, mediation, professional practice, contract negotiations, return to work, and accommodation issues for her members.
Read the full bio for Carol De Rosie
Dawn McDermott, Senior Advisor of Dispute Resolution and Support for Wilfrid Laurier University, has a 25-year history of working with people and organizations in crisis, implementing community programs and developing institutional supports for people experiencing marginalization, victimization, harassment and discrimination.
During her tenure as the Executive Director of Windsor and Essex County, Dawn was a member of the Sexual Assault Advisory Committee, and a team member appointed to conduct the Domestic Violence Safety audit of the Windsor police service. She co-created and implemented a group treatment program for female political torture survivors. She initiated the creation of a multicultural liaison...
Read the full bio for Dawn McDermott
Deborah Cooper is currently the General Secretary of the National Joint Council (NJC) of the Public Service of Canada. She is a union-side appointee to the position, having taken up the post in May 2013. The position is alternately held by employer side and bargaining agent side appointees. The NJC is a union-management organization that is the forum of choice for co-development and consultation between the parties within the federal public service. The NJC also manages numerous directives agreed to by the parties on items ranging from travel and relocation to the health care plan and the long-term disability plan.
Prior to this role, Deborah worked in private practice as an employment and labour lawyer, moving...
Read the full bio for Deborah Cooper
John McConchie is a labour arbitrator, mediator, and harassment complaints investigator who also advises clients in labour arbitration and human rights matters.
John brings over 25 years of experience and a special interest in preventative law to the task of helping clients both solve legal problems and prevent them from arising or recurring. To this end, he works with his partner, Ricki Lambeck McConchie, in providing client-targeted seminars, workshops and online programs on popular workplace subjects.
John was legal assistant to the Chair of the Labour Relations Board of BC from 1980 to 1981, an adjunct professor of law at the University of BC from 1992 to 1996, and adjudicator for the Employment...
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*The roster of speakers is subject to change.
May 11-14, 2021 - Victoria
July 13-16, 2021 - Toronto
How do I register for a program?
You can register online, call us toll-free at 1-888-858-7838, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com 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?
Strategic Grievance Handling starts at 8:30 a.m. on the first day. (Registration runs from 8:00 - 8:30 a.m.)
The program finishes at 3 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.