Collective Bargaining

Workers exchange their labour for wages and working conditions. Individual workers have little power relative to their employer, and are only protected by minimal employment standards under the law. 

So workers combine into unions to expand their power and improve their rights. Under Canadian and provincial laws, unions have the right to represent their members through negotiations with the employer – also called “collective bargaining” because it is on behalf of the collective unionized workforce, not individuals. 

Successful bargaining depends on many factors, including member mobilization, economic conditions, political environment, competition and more. Understanding these factors is key to strategizing.

Helpful Resources

USW Advancing Indigenous Rights Bargaining Guide (2021). This guide prompts users to reflect how indigenous rights and practices can be included in the collective bargaining process. 

Truth and reconciliation: CUPE taking action through collective bargaining. This guide is a crucial resource for activists to support Indigenous members and reconciliation efforts.

Health Services and Support – Facilities Subsector Bargaining Assn. v. British Columbia. This Supreme Court of Canada underscores that the process of collective bargaining without interference is as a human right. 

Collective Bargaining – Open Textbook Concordia. This textbook chapter writes from a management perspective, but it gives good insights into the general process and issues of collective bargaining.

Collective Bargaining Negotiations and the Risk of Strikes. When collective bargaining negotiations collapse, the threat of a strike often looms large. This Harvard Law blog offer strategies for avoiding strikes and, when they do occur, getting parties back to the bargaining table.

In Brief: Collective Bargaining. OJEN In Brief resources are designed to provide high school students with an introduction to basic legal concepts. Each resource includes a short lesson plan for the teacher; a 1-4 page plain language description of the legal topic; and activities that provide students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge of the topic.