CUPE 4600 – Bargaining process overview
The rules for bargaining are laid out by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, but here is a brief overview of the process that is followed by CUPE 4600:
What is bargaining?
A collective agreement (CA) is a written contract negotiated with the employer for employees by their Union that regulates the terms and conditions of employees at work. This includes regulating the wages, benefits, and duties of the employees and the duties and responsibilities of the employer. Collective agreements can last 1, 2, 3 or more years, but when they expire, both parties negotiate a new agreement, usually building on the previous agreement.
Unions develop their bargaining proposals with the input of their Members and on behalf of the interests of the entire bargaining unit (or the workers covered by a specific collective agreement).
CUPE 4600’s Bargaining Teams are made up of both Executive Board members and elected Rank and File members.
What happens if the two parties can’t agree?
If the union and the employer can’t agree on the terms of a new agreement, either side can apply to the Ministry of Labour for conciliation. The Ministry then appoints a conciliation officer who will join the Union and the employer in their negotiations.
The conciliation officer’s goal is to help both parties conclude a collective agreement. The conciliation officer tries to help both parties resolve their differences so they can reach a deal.
Is conciliation binding on the parties?
No, unlike interest arbitration, conciliation is not binding on either party.
What are the possible outcomes of conciliation?
· The parties could reach an agreement
· The parties could continue to talk
· The either party could ask for a “No Board Report”
What is a strike vote?
For a strike to be legal, unions must hold a vote asking their members for the mandate to strike. If over 50% of the members who vote decide in favour of a strike, the Executive Board can call a legal strike. Voting yes in the strike vote means that members are ready to strike, if necessary, to achieve a fair settlement.
Why hold a strike vote?
If Members vote “yes” in a strike vote, they give the Executive Board a strike mandate, which is a necessary step in putting the union in a legal strike position.
Does a strike vote mean there will be a strike?
A strike vote does not immediately start a strike. But a successful strike vote authorizes the Union’s Executive Board to call a strike if the Bargaining Teams can’t reach a deal with the employer.
What happens after the strike vote?
The Union’s bargaining team goes back to the bargaining table to negotiate with the employer (perhaps with help from the provincial conciliator).
What is a “no board” report?
At the request of either party, a “no board” report can be filed with the Ministry by the conciliation officer. Essentially, it means that the parties were unable to reach an agreement with the conciliation officer. Both parties must meet together with the conciliation officer at least once before filing a “no board”.
What happens after a “no board” report is filed?
Once a “no board” report has been granted, a 17-day countdown to a strike or lockout begins. During this period, the parties are in mediation with a Ministry-appointed mediator, who attempts to help the parties avoid a labour dispute.
What happens during mediation?
The terms of the current collective agreement remain in place until that period lapses. If the parties can’t reach a deal after the 17-day period has elapsed, the Party that filed the “no board” can initiate job action. If the employer files the “no board” they can legally lock workers out. If the Union files the “no board” they can legally go on strike.