Insights from Labour Relations

I’m currently TA-ing for a Labour Relations class, and the professor is our university’s retired Director of HR. Today he invited a local CUPE representative and the Mediation Expert of the Dispute Resolution Services Branch of the Ministry of Labour to give a talk about what they do. Here are some gems:


– always pad your bargaining issues…so if the real issue is about the money, it won’t look like it’s just the money at the end. And you don’t take anything out towards the end/in the last round of bargaining. 

– we sometimes have someone in our bargaining team whose job is to just watch the other team’s facial expression and body language and note all that


– “Collective bargaining is messy.”

– the bargaining doesn’t just happen the day of; the employer and union members could’ve planted the seed of mistrust or positivity from before. if the employer has been lying to the union people all year long, and on the bargaining day, the mediator comes with a “final” “truthful” offer from the employee, the union won’t believe them. the small actions add up.

– there are 4 dimensions of collective bargaining:

1) strategic – straight forward

2) technical – things like which rooms the employer/union reps are staying in (pent house or basement near the furnace), who gets more coffee in their room, etc.

3) psychological – transactional analysis – basically you can act like a critical parent, an adult, or a petulant child in the bargaining. ideally both sides including the mediator will all act like adults, but if you’re not, then something could go wrong. 

4) emotional – emotions should be checked at the door. if you find yourself getting angry, take a break. 

– “sharing information is going to give you credibility.”



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