Union Contract Negotiating Guideline
Throughout my 47 years in the work force in Canada, I have been a Union Organizer, a Union Steward, A Chief Union Steward, in both the public and private sectors.
I have assisted in re-writing contracts, taking Article by Article paragraph by paragraph apart in order to simplify the language and terminology, as well as the betterment of the contract for the workers.
I have served on negotiating committees in both the Federal and Provincial levels.
There are 5 key important rules for successful union contract negotiating.
Before you start to do anything say a little prayer and ask God to open the minds of management to receive your new recommendations. It always worked for me.
1. [Be confident, making sure you are dealing from strength.]
It is imperative that before you even think of entering into union negotiations with management, that you have a "Strike Mandate" signed and sealed on your person. This mandate shows to management that the workers you represent, are if necessary ready and willing to walk off on strike, and gives a tentative date of 30 to 45 days from the time that negotiations are deemed to have failed. This is the legal amount of time necessary for both sides to select an arbitrator for binding arbitration if necessary. There is no way that management wants to have to close the doors of business, they would rather deal than have to have a strike called.
2. [Be realistic with concerns to your demands, but aim high.]
2 to 3 months before contract negotiations a team should pole the rank and file members as to what they think are the key issues that need to be addressed. ie. wages, benefits, paid lunch and break periods etc.
Pick those issues that are of the most concern by the members, and select them as your key issues, the ones you are strongest about and won't waiver on. Anything that is of a monetary issue, aim high on your demands so as to leave a little room to bargain and negotiate, without giving in. When management sees you coming down even just a little, they will feel like they are succeeding.
3. [Never back down on protecting past contract earned rights.]
Points of issue that have been won in previous contracts, you should never allow to be re-opened by management in order to devaluate what has already been won and earned. The workers fought hard to earn those rights for themselves, and management has no right to try and "Claw back" any earned rights. Improvements to earned rights can be made by adding incentive clauses but never permit devaluation of any benefits.
4. [Be open to new ideas and new thinking.]
Management may wish to implement new ideas that could improve things for themselves as well as for the workers. Hear their ideas, pass them on for a feasibility study to see if the employees will benefit or not, and how.
5. [Never let management think for a second that they have the upper hand on anything.]
Any time management thinks that they have achieved the upper hand in the negotiations, they will try to apply stall tactics to try and slow things down this is where your strike mandate will play a big roll. Let them know that if they continue to stall, you will request an Arbitrator to take over the proceedings for binding arbitration and as soon as he sees that management is stalling things on purpose, he is more than likely going to rule in your favour on all or most aspects of the contract proposal.
I mentioned "Binding arbitration" earlier. The arbitrator is a representative of the labour board be it federally or provincially who acts as both a mediator and a judge. Their ruling over a contract is final. The one thing that can be worri-some about an arbitrator taking control is that both sides will pick from a list of arbitrators available during that period and both sides must agree on one.
As a Union negotiator, If you follow these 5 steadfast rules for negotiating any contract, you will come out victorious.
Tags: Union , Contract , Negotiations
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