Contract negotiations (bargaining) is at the very heart of what a union does and is. The union contract determines the wages, benefits and working conditions that members have; it is the concrete outcome of the union’s efforts to improve the lives of its members.
How negotiations work
The contract is negotiated between management and the union. Each side sends a committee to the bargaining table. In health care, CUPE sends the PHCC, and the employer sends the Labour Relations Secretariat (LRS).
Preparations for negotiations begin months before the old contract expires. What the union asks for at the bargaining table is determined by the input members give when they are asked what they would like to see in the next contract. During negotiations, the union bargaining committee reports back to members on their progress. You can find the updates we’ve been sending over the past year on this website under “Bargaining Updates“.
When each side has reached a tentative agreement and the negotiating committee thinks that it’s the best contract offer they can achieve, the members will get to vote on whether to accept the contract. If both sides reach an impasse (they can’t agree), then a provincial mediator can be appointed to help facilitate a fair resolution. The mediator then provides a report to the Minister of Labour.
If talks still break down, then union members can vote to strike.
Winning strong contracts
The key to winning good contracts is a strong union, and the key to a strong union is an informed, active membership. This is one reason why it’s important for all members to support the bargaining committee during contract negotiations.
Need more information?
If any member requires more information in regards to a collective agreement matter, please contact a shop steward in your facility, or a member of your local executive.