order to make the bargaining process more effective, the Code sets out certain procedures
that must be followed when the parties enter into collective bargaining.
Bargaining procedures and requirements
a newly certified bargaining unit, collective bargaining is initiated when either the
union or the employer serves the other party with a notice in writing to commence
bargaining. Once such notice has been served, the employer is not entitled to
increase or decrease the rates of pay of employees or to alter any other term or condition
of their employment until four months after certification or until a collective agreement
is negotiated, whichever occurs first.
the parties are bargaining to renew an existing agreement, notice to require the other
party to commence bargaining can be served only when four months or less are left in the
term of the agreement then in force. However, should neither party to the agreement
serve notice to commence bargaining, then the Code provides that the notice is deemed to
have been given 90 days prior to expiry of the agreement.
a notice to commence bargaining has been served, the union and the employer must begin
"good faith" bargaining within 10 days.
What can be done if one side refuses to meet or negotiate in good faith?
The requirement for good faith bargaining generally means that both
parties must be sincere in their attempts to reach an agreement.
This includes meeting with the other side and making every
reasonable effort to conclude an agreement. The bargaining
process calls for a certain amount of give and take. Failure
to agree with the other side's bargaining demands does not, in
itself, mean that a party is not bargaining in good faith. However,
a deliberate strategy by either party to prevent reaching an
agreement is considered to be bad faith bargaining. If one
party engages in that kind of conduct, the other party can lodge an
unfair labour practice complaint with the Labour Relations Board.
Code provides that every collective agreement shall be for a minimum of one year, although
the parties are free to agree to a longer term and frequently do so. During the life
of the agreement, changes to any of its provisions can be made only with the consent of
both the union and the employer.
term of a collective agreement may sometimes expire before a new agreement is reached
between the employer and union. In such cases, the terms of the collective agreement
remain in effect after its expiry date until either a new agreement is negotiated, a
strike or lockout commences, or the union is decertified whichever occurs first.
Joint consultation and adjustment plans
the Code all collective agreements must provide for a joint consultation process for the
parties to deal with workplace issues that arise during the life of the collective
agreement. The purpose of joint consultation is to:
the request of both parties, the Mediation Division of the Board will appoint a
facilitator to help the union and employer develop a more co-operative relationship.
employer introduces, or plans to introduce, a change that will
affect the working conditions or employment of a significant number
of employees, the employer must attempt to develop an adjustment
plan with the union for dealing with the impacts of the planned
change. The adjustment plan may include provisions for
of alternatives to the proposed change, including amendments to the collective agreement;
resource planning, employee counselling and retraining;
to pension, early retirement and other benefits; and/or,
A joint process for
overseeing implementation of the plan.
employer must give the union at least 60 days notice of changes that require an adjustment
plan. The parties would then meet and attempt to negotiate an adjustment plan for
dealing with the change. Any agreed-upon plan is enforceable as if it were part of
the collective agreement.
to agree on such a plan does not preclude the employer from proceeding with the changes
providing the matter was discussed in good faith with the union in a sincere endeavour to
develop an adjustment plan.
First collective agreement
Code anticipates that, in some instances, parties involved in the negotiation of their
first collective agreement may experience more difficulties than unions and employers with
a longer history of bargaining. If the union and employer have not been able to
negotiate a first collective agreement, and the employees have voted in favour of strike
action, either the union or employer can ask the Board for the appointment of a mediator.
The mediator's job is to help the parties reach their own agreement voluntarily. The
parties cannot engage in a strike or lockout during the mediation process.
the parties cannot reach an agreement with the mediator's help within the time frames
established by the Code, the Board will determine a process for settlement, which can
include one or more of the following:
mediation by a person with the power to arbitrate any unresolved issues;
Allowing the parties to strike or lock out.
contract settled by mediation/arbitration or arbitration alone is binding on the parties.