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LS 2A03E - Labour Management Conflict-Cooperation & Collective Bargaining - November 13.docx

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Labour Studies
Sam Vrankulj

LABOUR STUDIES 2A03E – UNIONS LABOUR MGNT CONFLICT-COOPERATION & COLLECTIVE BARGAINING – November 13, 2013 Collective Agreement - A legally binding contract between an employer and a union which outlines the terms and conditions of work, the rights of each party, and the process by which they will interest with each other during the life of the contract Bargaining Unit - All employees covered by a specific collective agreement o This is often contested between management and unions during certification process - Determined by Labour Relations Board in certification process Internal Bargaining - Process by which unions formulate collective bargaining priorities - Ongoing - Formulation of bargaining priorities often results in internal tension (younger vs. older, skill vs. less skilled, etc.) - Happens before collective bargaining. After collective agreement signed, internal bargaining starts immediately again until next collective bargaining session Bargaining Power - The extent to which one side can impose conditions of employment on the other - Shaped by the relative reliance of one party on the other - Also shaped by the broader political, economic, and legal context o Strong economy = higher power for workers o Weak economy = higher power for management Sources of Union Power - Strike threat (last resort) - Job power (skilled workers) - Exit power (quitting/turnover) o Costs to employer for recruitment and training new employees - Labour markets (leverage based on number of jobs) - Market conditions (leverage based on consumer market) - Favourable economic and political conditions Sources of Management Power - Favourable legislation (free trace, replacement worker, etc.) - Local economic context (leverage based on strong or weak economy) - Nature of work (ex. Google workplace vs. factory worker) - Market conditions - Wages and benefits Management Rights - “the right to hire, assign, increase, and or decrease the workforce, promote, demote, transfer… the determination of the location and the number of plants, the product to be manufactured, the methods of manufacturing, schedules of production, kinds and location of machines, the tools to be used, the engineering and design of products…” Collective Bargaining Issues - Substantive o Wages, benefits, and working conditions - Procedural/Relational o Process of interaction during the life of agreement o Nature of ongoing participation in workplace Collective Bargaining Categories - Distributive o Zero-sum: a gain for one is a loss for the other) - Integrative o Positive-sum: both side benefit  Ex. Health and Safety standards, employee – safe work environment, employer – workers able to work Collective Bargaining Process Definitions - Strike Mandate Vote o Secret ballot vote in which union members voice support or opposition for the position of the union bargaining committee - Conciliation o Both parties apply for a third party intervention by the OLRB - No-Board Report o Conciliator files a “no board report” signifying an impasse - Cooling-off Period o 17 day period in which either side can legally strike/lock-out - Mediation or Arbitration o Voluntary process in which both sides agree to resolve issues with an arbitrator (mediator appointed by Ministry of Labour if requested – arbitrator negotiated between parties) - Ratification Vote o Tentative agreement between union and management is presented to union members for acceptance or rejection Forms of Conflict and Resolution - Strikes o Economically “irrational” however strategically important o Counteract management unilateralism o Limited - Wildcat Strikes o Illegal strikes within term of collective agreement o Spontaneous challenge to management and union authority - Work To Rule o Capitalizes on the ambiguous nature of employment contract o Workers precisely perform their jobs  E.g. custom officers and teachers - Informal Conflict (Individual and Collective) o Sabotage o Absenteeism o Sandbagging o Quitting “exit voice” Informal Workplace Conflict Resolution - Détente o “keeping one force in a certain position relative to the other” o Between unions/management and workers and supervisors o Breaches of détente provokes other into action Conflict and Cooperation - Potential Sources of Conflict (these can happen, do not necessarily happen) o Underlying  Inherent feature of the relationship between Labour and Capital o Contextual  Variable factors shaped by environmental conditions (workplace, industry, legislation, etc.) Underlying Sources of Conflict - Legal alienation of workers o Unequal distribution of social resources (private ownership) o Means of production under the control of very few (workers have no options) o Most have few options beyond selling their capacity to labour in exchange for wages - Competing objective interests o Pursuit of profit introduces a “conflict of interest” between employers and workers o Employers increase profit by increasing prices (difficult in competitive markets), or by reducing production costs  Need to survive o Employers compelled to reduce production costs in order to compete and maximize profits (deskilling, technology, contracting out, etc.)  Can’t increase prices in competitive market (people will go elsewhere), so compelled to reduce operating costs o Workers attempt to maximize “effort/reward” in their favour - Nature of Employment Relationship o Workers have few legal rights to exercise authority in workplace  Only minimum standards, but no authority is legally given o Legally sanctioned authoritarianism in the workplace o “Check your democratic rights at the door” o Management exercises this authoritarian power in the interest of accumulating profit and not in the interest of workers o Management rights clause:  “The right to hire, assign, increase and or decrease the workforce, promote, demote, transfer... the determination of the location and the number of plants, the product to be manufactured, the methods of manufacturing, schedules of production, kinds and location of machines, the tools to be used, the engineering and design of products…” - Nature of employment contract o Employment contract ambiguous  If not explicitly stated in agreement, management
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