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About Collective Bargaining - Ombudsman - French Language Services Unit

What is collective bargaining?

Collective bargaining occurs when a group of people in a workplace band together to increase their negotiating power. There is a greater likelihood of success together than there is apart, so it is also about demonstrating our collective will and resolve.

These negotiations between employees and management lead to a legally binding collective agreement that details many of the terms and conditions of our employment, including wages, working conditions, job security, and more.

This collective agreement also ensures the employer consults with us and that we work collaboratively to seek solutions on matters that affect us. It means our workplaces are governed with transparency and fairness.

History has proven that social change often starts in a union’s collective agreement. We find ourselves at point in history where the workplace is changing and so it's very important that the voices of Ontario’s Professional Employees are heard.

 

How does collective bargaining work?

Your union is always bargaining on your behalf.

However, formal bargaining of a renewed collective agreement begins many months before the two sides meet. One of the first steps is the selection of a bargaining team, which will act as the voice of all AMAPCEO-represented employees at the bargaining table. Learn more about how the bargaining team will be selected. The bargaining team is supported throughout the process by AMAPCEO’s professional staff and legal counsel from Goldblatt Partners, one of Canada’s leading union-side labour law firms.

The entire membership will be surveyed on the current collective agreement. Members will be asked where they want to see improvements be made. The results will then be further informed by research, additional consultation, and legal advice to generate more specific bargaining plans. The Board of Directors is ultimately responsible for reviewing and approving bargaining mandates. If bargaining timeframes permit, the Board customarily shares high-level priorities with the Annual Delegates’ Conference. Once mandates are approved by the Board of Directors, they are provided to respective bargaining teams as their mandates going forward.

Initial bargaining meetings between the union’s bargaining team and the employer begin with each team outlining the context and the objectives of their proposals. They’ll work out how bargaining will be organized and the process (e.g., meeting locations and frequency, how they will communicate, who will serve as spokespeople, the role of legal counsel, etc.).

The bargaining team, with leadership and guidance from the President/CEO, the team’s Chair, legal counsel and professional staff, will meet on a regular basis to ultimately develop the team’s position on the issues under negotiation and how they wish to proceed.

The union’s bargaining team and the employer will move through their respective proposals, provide answers to questions that the other side may have, and respond to each proposal. The parties are required by legislation to meet and to bargain in good faith. This means that each side must make its best efforts to reach a collective agreement.

Bargaining will continue as each side is able to find common ground and accept some of the other side’s proposals while modifying or abandoning, some of their own initial proposals.

A tentative agreement is reached when all issues in dispute are resolved or removed from debate and the Board of Directors are satisfied the mandate has been fulfilled to the best of bargaining team’s ability.

The Board of Directors will then announce that a tentative agreement has been reached and will take it to members for their majority vote ratification while the Employer will seek Cabinet ratification.

An impasse in bargaining occurs when one party cannot accept a proposal that the other side will not abandon.

In previous rounds of bargaining, AMAPCEO and the employer have voluntarily agreed to hire an external mediator to help resolve differences during an impasse. Alternatively, a labour disruption—including a job action or strike by AMAPCEO, or a lockout or unilateral imposition by the employer—is possible. These labour disruptions are used when one side is attempting to exert pressure on the other to try and compel them to concede a bargaining position. Learn more about this below.

 

When does bargaining start?

Our current collective agreement expires on March 31, 2022.

As early as 90 days prior to its expiry, January 1, 2022, either AMAPCEO or the employer can serve “notice to bargain”, indicating a desire to meet and negotiate a new collective agreement. This notice is a legislated requirement that the respondent has 15 days in which to comply.

But while bargaining meetings with the employer may not start until next year, AMAPCEO is getting things ready now, including conducting research, preparing campaigns, and selecting a bargaining team.

 

How will I get updates during bargaining?

Make sure your contact information with AMAPCEO is up-to-date, and that you are subscribed to receive our emails. Visit our Subscribe page if you haven’t opted-in to receive our emails.

Signed members also receive exclusive updates and event invitations. If you haven’t become a signed member of AMAPCEO, you can do so at no additional cost at amapceo.ca/membership.

We will also continually update this webpage with updates as they become available. And the union’s leadership will meet with members either virtually or in-person, as public health regulations permit, to update members on progress.

 

How are bargaining goals set?

Every AMAPCEO member will take part in a survey asking them where they desire improvements to the current collective agreement.  It is very important that you complete this survey and make sure your voice is heard.

The survey results will be provided to the bargaining team, staff, and union leadership to draft the broad bargaining priorities, which are typically shared with Delegates at the Annual Delegates’ Conference.

These results, further informed by research, additional consultation, and legal advice, will be used to generate more specific bargaining plans. The Board of Directors is ultimately responsible for reviewing and approving this mandate.

 

What happens if our current contract ends before a new one is negotiated?

The existing terms and conditions of the current collective agreement remain frozen in place until a new collective agreement comes into effect. Sometimes the new agreement has retroactive measures.

 

How is collective bargaining in the public interest?

Collective bargaining is a useful way to sit down and find solutions to current issues and prevent others. Instead of allowing workplace issues to linger and become more serious problems, it offers an opportunity to collaborate in an orderly and effective manner.

Some economists contend that without collective bargaining, long-term disputes can fester and lead to problems affecting morale and productivity—and sometimes massive workplace disruption. Studies have also shown that jurisdictions that deny workers the right to bargain collectively are in no better fiscal shape (and in many cases, are worse off) than those which allow workers to bargain collectively.

History has proven that social change often starts in a union’s collective agreement. We find ourselves at point in history where the workplace is changing and so it's very important that the voices of Ontario’s Professional Employees are heard.

 

Why is it important to support my colleagues and union during collective bargaining?

We have worked hard to achieve the current terms and conditions of our employment. Supporting your colleagues, the bargaining team, and our union, helps demonstrate our collective strength and our resolve to securing a fair contract. We are stronger together.

Union leadership and local AMAPCEO activists may also ask you to take specific actions to demonstrate your solidarity. This could include displaying a flag on your desk, using a union background during a video call, or attending an event.

These actions serve as proof of member cohesion and support for AMAPCEO. This can speed up the bargaining process and result in improved collective agreements for all members.

More broadly, unions helped build the middle class in Canada. The eight-hour workday, pensions, minimum wages, employment standards, equal pay, health and safety legislation, pregnancy and parental leave, and other provisions were first negotiated by unionized workers and then extended to others.

Since the 1990s, however, unions have been under attack—first in the private sector and now in the public sector. It’s important that we bust unfair myths and build collective power for the benefit of all.

 

Does collective bargaining lead to a strike?

The priority in our negotiations has always been to achieve a fair collective agreement without any unnecessary use of job action. AMAPCEO has always fought for alternatives to labour disruptions in the event of a bargaining impasse and has never had to go on strike.

However, if the employer creates issues during negotiations, a labour disruption remains an important tool in the union’s toolbox. Labour disruption is a broad term encompassing a spectrum of possibilities—small, such as a local lunch-time rally or a refusal to work overtime, to large, such as a province-wide walkout or strike.

Union-initiated labour disruptions are governed by a legal process that unfolds over several weeks. A union cannot call a strike without first having its members vote in favour of such an action. A positive vote does not guarantee that a job action will take place. It is a clear message to the employer side that AMAPCEO members are serious about achieving certain demands in bargaining.

Adapted in part with permission from ETFO

Last Revised: September 9, 2021