Each unit votes for members to join the bargaining committee. Bargaining Committees are usually made of of members from the Executive Committee, Unit Officers from their respective units, and other members from the unit. Representatives from CUPE National also assist.
Creation of Bargaining Proposals
The Bargaining Committee drafts bargaining proposals that will be presented to the employers using results from the bargaining surveys.
No earlier than 90 days before the end of our collective agreements, bargaining units will either have sent out a notice to bargain or received one from each employer. After this notice, we set out times to meet and exchange proposals. At any point during negotiations, an agreement can be reached.
The Bargaining Committees may call for a strike vote at some point during negotiations. A successful vote does not immediately start a strike, which is an action only ever used as a last resort. A successful strike vote authorizes the Bargaining Committees to call a strike if the employers does not make fair proposals. A strong strike vote shows solidarity and sends a message that we are united and willing to take action if needed.
If the parties are too far apart and aren’t able to reach an agreement, a conciliation officer (someone trained to help guide negotiations) is requested from the Ontario Ministry of Labour.
No Board Report
If an agreement is still not possible with the help of a conciliation officer, either the union or the employer can request a ‘No Board Report’ from the Ministry of Labour. Once requested, the Ministry will issue a ‘No Board Report’ within 5 days, which triggers a 17 working day period before a lockout or strike is possible.
Once a ‘No Board Report’ has been called, the Ontario Ministry of Labour appoints a mediator to guide negotiations. This can be the same person who filled the role of conciliation officer, but the mediator now takes a more active role in trying to find areas of agreement and compromise.
Lockout or Strike
As soon as the ‘No Board Report’ period ends, a lockout or strike is possible. A lockout occurs when an employer locks out its employees and refuses to allow them to work as a punitive measure for refusing to accept a poor deal. A strike is an action union members take to withhold their labour in order to compel their employers to negotiate a fair deal.
The lockout/strike will end only when an agreement is reached through continued negotiations or back-to-work legislation is introduced by the Province.
Ratification of Settlement
If a settlement can be reached through negotiations, both the employer and union need to ratify the agreement. The unit will hold a ratification vote for its members. We will notify members in advance of the location and time of the ratification votes. If members reject the proposed settlement, the parties will head back to the bargaining table to continue negotiating. If a settlement is reached during a lockout/strike and members do not support the terms in the settlement, the lockout/strike will continue.