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Chapter 11_Collective Bargaining and Labour Relations.docx

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McMaster University
Frances Tuer

Chapter 11—Collective Bargaining and Labour Relations THE LABOUR RELATIONS FRAMEWORK • A successful industrial relations system consists of four elements: o 1. An environmental context (technology, market pressures, and the legal framework) o 2. Participants, including employees and their unions, management, and the government o 3. A ‘web of rules’ that describe the process by which labour and management interact and resolve disagreements o 4. Ideology (a set of ideas) • Labour-management relations exists on a continuum ranging from: o 1. Open-conflict (two parties have extreme distrust dislike for one another) o 2. Containment-aggression (there is still distrust, but to a lesser extent, and dislike becomes antagonism) o 3. Accommodation (lack of trust and acceptance, but more courteous) o 4. Cooperation/collaboration (two parties trust and accept each other) • The remainder of this chapter is organized into the following sections: the goals and strategies of society, management and unions; union structure; the legal framework; union and management interaction; and labour relations outcomes GOALS AND STRATEGIES Society • The major benefit of labour unions to society is the institutionalization of industrial conflict, which is therefore resolved in the least costly way o Thus, disagreements will be solved through discussion (collective bargaining) rather than “in the streets” Employers (Management) • Management tends to discourage their employees from joining unions because they fear higher wage and benefit costs, strikes, and an adversarial relationship with their employees • Management has used two basic strategies to avoid unionization: o They might offer good pay and benefits to employees so the employees don’t feel the need to be represented by a union o They also could very openly and aggressively oppose unionization Labour Unions • Labour unions seeks, through collective action, to give workers a formal and independent voice in setting the terms and conditions of their work • A major goal of unions is bargaining effectiveness (like using the right to strike) o The more people in the union, the more effective the union will be UNION STRUCTURE, ADMINISTRATION, AND MEMBERSHIP • We must now understand how labour and management are organized and how they function—let’s now focus on labour unions National and International Unions • Most union members belong to a national or international union o Most national unions are composed of multiple local units • Trade unions generally have a localized structure—there is a central or national office run by the national union executives, and then there are other branches underneath them • International unions tend to be based in the United States and has a Canadian national office • The largest Canadian union is the Canadian Union of Public Employees with 601,976 employees • Craft workers belong to craft unions which unionize employees based on similar skills (carpentry), whereas industrial workers belong to industrial unions which unionize employees based on their industry (steel, autoworkers) o Craft workers tend to change employers often Local Unions • When a problem is specific to a particular area, local unions are necessary as they deal with more localized issues as opposed to national unions o Contract administration and day-to-day interaction between labour and management takes place at the local union level • Local unions are often based in a single city or region, and local union meetings are where workers can go to give input and elect union officials and vote on strikes Union Security • The survival and security of a union depends on its ability to ensure a regular flow of new members and member dues to support the services it provides o Therefore, unions typically place high priority on negotiating two contract provisions with an employer that are critical to the union’s security:  1. Check-Off Provision: a union contract provision that requires an employer to deduct union dues from employees’ paycheques  2. Union Membership or Contribution Provision: focuses on the flow of new members and their dues; these consist of: • Closed Shops: a union security provision requiring a person to be a union member before being hired • Union Shops: a union security provision that requires all existing and future employees to join and maintain membership in the union • Agency Shops/Rand Formula: a union security provision that requires an employee to pay union membership dues but they don’t have to join the union o Maintenance of membership refers to union rules that require members to remain members for a certain period of time o Voluntary check-off refers to a union security provision wherein members of the union have union dues deducted by the employer only at their request, and therefore there is no requirement to join the union Union Membership and Bargaining Power • Employers continue to resist unionization in an attempt to control costs and maintain their flexibility • On the other hand, unions must hold on to existing members and gain new members as a way to increase their bargaining power to meet their goals Legal Framework • The legal framework constrains union structure and administration and the manner in which unions and employers interact • Only certain professions can be covered by unions, but the labour legislation covers all jobs in general Unfair Labour Practices—Employers • Labour relations legislation prohibits certain activities by both employers and labour unions • Generally, it is unlawful for employers to interfere with the formation or administration of a union or to contribute to a union o Employers also cannot threaten or penalize an employee for joining a union Unfair Labour Practices—Labour Unions • Unions also cannot use intimidation or coercion to seek to compel a person to become or refrain from becoming a union member o Unions also cannot interfere with the formation or administration of an employers’ organization o They must bargain in good faith, fairly represent employees, and not force a strike if not necessary Duty of Fair Representation • A duty of fair representation refers to a common law and statutory duty that the union fairly represent all employees in the bargaining unit, whether or not union members— unions are prohibited from acting in an arbitrary, discriminatory, or unfair manner o Briefly summarized, the common law duty consists of the following principles:  1. The union must fairly represent all members  2. Members do not have a definite right to arbitration  3. The union must exercise its discretion in good faith  4. Arbitrary, discriminatory, or wrongful conduct is prohibited  5. All members must be represented fairly and genuinely Duty to Bargain in Good Faith • Duty to bargain in good faith refers to a duty on employers and unions to make every reasonable effort to collectively bargain with the objective of reaching a collective agreement Enforcement • Enforcement of the labour relations decisions rests with the labour relations board in their respective jurisdiction o The major functions of this labour relations board consists of:  1. Certifying the trade unions (memberships and votes)  2. Terminating bargaining rights  3. Resolving unfair labour practice complaints  4. Determining employer status  5. Resolving complaints  6. Issuing remedies to problems  7. Referral of grievances to arbitration • The labour relations board does not initiate actions—rather it responds to a request of action UNION AND MANAGEMENT INTERACTIONS: ORGANIZING • Previously we looked at ‘macro’ trends in union membership—let’s now shift our focus to more ‘micro’ issues of why individuals join unions, and how the organizing process works Why Do Employees Join Unions? • Every decision to join a union focuses on two questions: o 1. Is there a gap between the pay the employee currently receives and what they actually should receive? o 2. If there is a gap, is union membership a way of solving the problem? The Process and Legal Framework of Organizing • Certification refers to the process by which the labour board designates the union as the exclusive bargaining agent of employees in the bargaining unit o Once a union has been certified, no other union can apply for certification for a prescribed period of time (usually 6-12 months) • Though certification is often the most common method of ‘organizing’ the union, another method is by voluntary recognition which occurs when the employer agrees in writing to recognize the union as the exclusive bargaining agent of employees in the bargaining unit Organizing Campaigns: Management and Union Strategies and Tactics • Unions attempt to persuade employees to join their union by saying how they can offer higher pay, better
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