CHAPTER9 STRIKES AND DISPUTE RESOLUTION
Strikes are a mechanism unions use to achieve their bargaining goals.
DEFINING INDUSTRIAL DISPUTE
Industrial dispute refers to the disagreement between ERs and EEs, which raising from entering
into, renewing, or revising a collective agreement.
A strike refers to a work stoppage invoked by a union.
Occur when a number of workers refuse to continue working or they stop working.
Worker efforts to reduce productivity would also be considered a strike. Like work to rule,
which is the strategy of EEs who perform only to the minimum standard requirement.
Wildcat strike refers to the illegal strike during the term of collective agreement.
There are also strikes being restricted, meaning that there are a limited number or type of EEs
who can go on strike.
Lockout refers to a work stoppage invoked by management.
Occur when the ERs suspends work (or refuse to employ a number of workers) in an effort to
get workers to agree to proposed term or employment conditions.
HRSDC (Human Resources and Social Development Canada) provides several measures of strike:
total number, or frequency, of strikes;
number of workers involved in the strike
person-day not worked or the estimated number of days lost due to the strike calculated as
number of workers multiplied by number of days on strike
% of working time lost due to strike
Single statistic can be misleading.
National Statistical Trends
Historically, the general trend has been a reduction in lost time since 1980, with sharp decrease
Levels of strikes are varied across nation.
The average rate of strikes dropped by 37% when the five years period of 1997-2001 is compared
to that of 2002-2006
Statistics, taken at face value, may not tell the full story.
THEORIES, CAUSES, AND IMPACTS OF STRIKES
Accident (or Hicks) Theory
The assumption that strikes represents accidents.
Strikes should be unexpected and that when they do occur, they are the result of errors made at
the bargaining table, misunderstandings of bargaining goals, or mismatches between the
expectations of the bargaining team and the group they represent.
The Total Joint Costs Theory
Strikes are more likely when the cost of the strike is relatively low for both parties or the cost of
settling is very high in comparison to the cost of striking.
The difference in the cost of the strike to one party, relative to the other, results in a difference in
Asymmetric Information Theory
Parties may strike or lock out as a way to see if the other side is bluffing. In so doing, the parties gather more information about the claims of the other party—information
that would bot be easily accessible in other ways.
Strikes can be sparked by a single trigger event.
Isolated and Homogeneous Groups
Intact groups of similar workers—particularly if they are in unpleasant jobs—may be more prone to
Management Indifference or Unresolved Grievances
Management (particularly lower-level management) indifference to worker complaints and
grievances that are allowed or left unresolved may become catalysts for strike action.
Workers with feelings of work-related frustration, alienation, or dissatisfaction will naturally seek to
improve the situation through their involvement in union activities and strikes.
Strikes are more common when the economy is doing well and unemployment is low.
In good economics, workers may strike in an effort to make economic gains from ERs.
Just as Intraorganizational misalignment can reduce power at the bargaining table, so too can it
result in strike activity.
The strike may serve to readjust the expectations of the membership toward a more realistic
Decreased production can result in decreased revenues and market share in the longer term.
Any negotiation wage and benefit increases can represent substantial increases in organizational
Long strikes can result in significant and negative financial impacts on striking EEs, their families,
and even the communities they live.
A strike can have impacts on workers’ work experience and psychological well-being, and even
restore the employment relationship.
Strikes have significant negative effects on EE perception variables of organizational commitment,
job satisfaction, work environment, management satisfaction, and union commitment.
The grievance procedures are one of the employment practices that formally differentiate
employment under common law versus employment under collective bargaining law.
In industrial relations, a grievance is a formal compliant that a specific (and identified) clause
contained in the collective agreement was not properly followed.
There are three key types of grievances in work environment:
1. Individual Grievance: most common grievance field
2. Group Grievance: a group of EEs grieve that the collective agreement has been violated
3. Union or Policy Grievance: the union leadership initiates the compliant
THE GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE
There are three key parties: The EE, who often is the initial initiator of the grievance
The union, who is usually first represented by the shop steward
Management, who at the start of the process is usually represented by the immediate
If the grievance is not settled through the “normal” grievance process, external third parties may
become involved (grievance mediators, arbitrators, etc.)
Most agreements have an informal stage followed by three or four formal stages:
1. Informal stage. An EE with or without the assistance of the shop steward may bring a
complaint to his or her immediate supervisor in an attempt to settle the issue. If the complaint
is not resolved, the EE can take it through the formal grievance process.
2. Formal step 1. The EE will, usually with a his or her steward, present a written grievance to the
supervisor. The supervisor will have a specified period of time to investigate and respond. If
the complaint is not resolved, it moves to step 2.
3. Formal step 2. The grievance is reviewed by the next level of management and union
hierarchy (department manager and a member of the union grievance committee). If the
complaint is not resolved, it moves to the next step.
4. Formal step 3. Repeat the previous step but with an even higher level of management and
union hierarchy present (the plant manager or HR manager and a senior member of the union
such as an executive member or union local president). If the complaint is not re