Queen's University IRC

Collective Bargaining During a Pandemic

A Special 1-day Negotiation Skills Workshop



There are currently no dates scheduled for this program. Please call our toll-free number at 1-888-858-7838 or email us at irc@queensu.ca for more information, or to be added to our waiting list.


Pandemic or not, collective bargaining must still go on. Workplace issues change, and in times of change such as ours, collective bargaining is needed more than ever. While we are all waiting for a semblance of normal to return, we must be able to engage each other and bargain effectively.

This one-day workshop is a practical, skills-based session to learn and review bargaining best practices that will set your team up for effectiveness. It starts with critical preparation steps, structuring a successful bargaining team, and building a clear strategy. It goes on to cover different bargaining styles, and the most foundational skill at the table – engaging the other party effectively. It offers clear and simple format for issue analysis and decision-making.

The second part of the workshop looks at bargaining in COVID times – how to negotiate remotely, and effectively, with the other party. It will look at best practices for your own team when working remotely, as well as how to structure and run negotiations to keep them confidential and engaging. It will cover the most useful technology, and how to set it up.

Lastly, the workshop will solicit key issues from participants prior to the session and will address the most common issues in depth.


Gary furlong

Lead Facilitator

Deborah Cooper


Deborah Cooper


Al Loyst


Mike Lumb

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Gary Furlong

Gary Furlong has extensive experience in labour mediation, alternative dispute resolution, negotiation, and conflict resolution.  Gary is past president of the ADR Institute of Ontario, is a Chartered Mediator (C. Med.) and holds his Master of Laws (ADR) from Osgoode Hall Law School.  Gary is the author of The Conflict Resolution Toolbox, John Wiley and Sons, Second Edition 2020; the co-author of BrainFishing: A Practice Guide to Questioning Skills, FriesenPress 2018;and The Sports Playbook, Routledge, 2018.

Gary has worked with the Queen’s University School of Industrial Relations conducting research into employment models of dispute resolution in Canadian companies. He teaches a number of labour-related courses at Queen’s University IRC, along with advanced mediation skills at York University.

In the labour area, Gary mediates collective agreements, grievances and labour board complaints for sectors as diverse as school boards, public health care, utilities, and airlines across Canada. Gary has delivered collective bargaining negotiation skills training for both management and union bargaining teams, bringing a strong focus of effective and collaborative skills to the table. Gary specializes in leading joint bargaining training for intact negotiation teams just prior to negotiations, with a focus on helping parties maximize joint gains at the table. In addition, Gary also conducts relationship building interventions to strengthen day-to-day union-management effectiveness away from bargaining.

Gary has worked with a wide range of organizations in the private sector, in the public sector with municipalities, provincial governments and the federal government, and with unions including Unifor, Teamsters, CUPE, ONA, OPSEU, IATSE and PSAC.

Gary was awarded the McGowan Award of Excellence by the ADR Institute of Canada. He is a graduate of Stanford University in California.


Deborah Cooper

Deborah Cooper is currently the Executive Director of a federal union representing public service employees in multiple bargaining units across Canada, as well as being a facilitator and coach at Queen’s IRC since 2013.  She has been involved in all aspects of labour relations from the internal grievance process to adjudication, having appeared before numerous tribunals and courts. With respect to collective bargaining, she has bargained in various sectors including the federal public service, the private sector, and the non-profit environment. 

Prior to this role, Deborah worked in private practice as an employment and labour lawyer until 2005, moving over to work in-house at two different federal bargaining agents in 2005 and 2009.  From 2012-2013, she then worked on the employer side as a Director in the Labour Relations and Compensation Division of a large federal department. In 2013, she was appointed as General Secretary of the National Joint Council (NJC) of the Public Service of Canada. She was a union-side appointee to the position, having held the post from May 2013 – June 2018.  Among other things, the NJC also manages numerous directives agreed to by the parties, and incorporated into their collective agreements, on items ranging from travel and relocation to the health care plan and the long-term disability plan.

 After her tenure at the NJC, she worked at a large federal union as General Counsel and then from August 2019 until April 2022, she represented workers in the federally-regulated aviation industry as Director of Labour Relations and General Counsel. 

Deborah also lived and worked in various roles overseas in Paris, France for several years, including at the Canadian Embassy. She holds an Honours Bachelor Degree from the University of Ottawa, a Law Degree from the University of Western Ontario, as well as the Certificate in Labour Relations and Certificate in Advanced Human Resources from Queen’s University IRC. She has been a member of the Law Society of Ontario for over 25 years.

Al Loyst

Al Loyst was a member of the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) for 45 years. This unprecedented tenure provided him with valuable insight into collective bargaining and the unionized landscape as it has adapted and transformed in Canada. As a result of the unique roles that Al held at General Motors (GM), he has been able to utilize his skills to play an integral role in assisting the membership in obtaining solid contracts and fair employment. Al’s lengthy career with GM has offered him the ability to see change through a variety of different positions such as “wellness coordinator” (with the transition of the truck plant, Al was instrumental in bargaining for a fitness centre), human-rights investigator and human-rights facilitator, service representative for the membership and team lead on a pilot project in a self-directed work group. Al retired in 2017, as the second longest serving GM employee in their history.

Al held elected positions (dating back to 1992) and worked tirelessly at the CAW to advocate on behalf of the members. Throughout his years of service, Al dealt with employee benefits, sick and accident E.I. compensation, and pensions. He took on roles such as strike coordinator (1997) and was an instrumental part of organizing a plant occupation, which led to a settlement and the sale of the plant to Peregrine Inc. Al was a member of many bargaining committees, one of which negotiated a transition agreement with GM and Peregrine. In 1998, he was elected district committee person and was later amongst the negotiating committee members that successfully negotiated the first collective agreement in 2000.

Throughout his career, Al has utilized both traditional and interest-focused bargaining and has seen the impact of both styles of bargaining and their long and short-term effects on organizational relationships and union/management interactions.

Al has been a long-standing trainer with the Queen’s IRC Negotiation Skills and Managing Unionized Environmentsprograms and has completed both his Organizational Development and Labour Relations Certificates through Queen’s IRC.

He undertakes training across the country and is called upon by union and management teams alike to share his experiences to enhance and shape union and management relations across a broad spectrum of workplaces in the private, public, government and not for profit sectors.

Mike Lumb

Mike was an Executive Staff Officer with the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO). His career spanned 32 years in the public education sector.
During this time, he served in a number of capacities which included: Educational Assistant, Occasional Teacher, Elementary Teacher, Health and Safety Rep., School Steward, Local Federation President (ETFO), Provincial Executive Member (ETFO), Ontario Teacher Federation Governor, along with his most recent position as an Executive Staff Officer in the Collective Bargaining Department with ETFO.

Labour relations and specifically collective bargaining have been a cornerstone of Mike’s career, due to his early involvement with the federation. He worked his way up from the grassroots as a Local School Steward and has held numerous positions along the way. From political protests to picket lines, he led his membership both locally and provincially through many labour controversies.

Mike has learned a variety of negotiating styles from positional based bargaining to interest-focused bargaining and how they affect the union-management relationship in the workplace. Most recently and due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mike’s experience has expanded to included successful online bargaining strategies through a number of electronic platforms.

During his tenure as a union leader, Mike dealt with diverse labour relations issues such as membership concerns and grievance/arbitration to employee benefits. On more than one occasion, he has had to mobilize his membership for job action in various forms.

Mike’s education includes a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Carleton University in 1987 followed by a Bachelor of Education from Queen’s University in 1993. He is also a graduate of the Queen’s Industrial Relations Centre Negotiations Skills Program. In addition, Mike spent two and half years travelling on an independent trip around the world and was the President of the Greater Kingston AAA Hockey Association. He lives in Kingston with his family.