Collective bargaining (CB) is the process of establishing or reviewing the conditions of employment between an employer and its unionized workforce.
On the face of it that seems to be a very simple concept. In fact, nothing is further from the truth. It is very difficult to understand and learn how to manage the collective bargaining process until you have actually experienced the process several times.
A good place to start when examining the CB process is with what happens when there is a conflict during negotiations and a new Collective Agreement (CA) between the parties cannot be reached. The resolution model for a contract dispute typically involves a union going on strike, or the employer locking out the union members. In both scenarios production stops and little or no unionized work gets done. This is exactly what happened in the GM Cami plant.
The last strike that occurred at the plant, located in Ingersoll, Ontario, was in 1992, and it lasted 5 weeks. It was what we in the labour-relations world would call a bread and butter strike. The union went on strike for better workplace relationships, wages, and benefits.
Let’s move forward 25 years to this current strike. Today’s Cami plant strike is not about wages, it is about saving jobs and improving job security. In 2015 the Cami Plant lost 400 jobs to Mexico.
The union is looking for GM to guarantee that the Cami Plant becomes the lead production facility of the Equinox, which would essentially mean a commitment to maintaining union jobs in Ontario. The union workers are committed to taking this stance as 99.8 percent of Cami plant workers voted to support the strike.
This Cami plant strike is dealing with much bigger concerns than the typical bread and butter issues of employment conditions. It is really trying to address what is happening in today’s global economy, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and keeping manufacturing jobs in Canada. These are big issues that all HR professionals have to think about, whether they are working in a unionized or non-unionized industry.
Discuss and critically support your position on the following statement. Does a union have a right to ask for an employer to provide job security?
Identify and discuss the concept of the triangle of pressure during collective bargaining negotiations.