4 Strategies for Collective Bargaining in Today’s Economy
Gary T Furlong, C.Med, LL.M (ADR), 2016
We have entered a challenging and difficult time for collective bargaining for both employers and unions. Shortly following the great recession in 2008, both management and unions reached deals relatively quickly, everyone recognizing the dramatic economic issues the parties faced at the time. From 2008 well into 2012, there was little change. Employers tried to deal with the reality of the recession, and unions waited for the anticipated rebound, assuming it would resemble almost all recessions of the past – a difficult period, a holding pattern for a short time, followed by a return to growth in the economy and a resumption of “normal” bargaining. This time, however, that hasn’t happened. Certainly not in the way it has in the past.
The economy has, at best, rebounded to the level of “treading water”, and bargaining has not returned to anything resembling “normal” for the last 30 years. Organizations are looking for zero wage increases, looking to fund increases from savings within the agreement, and looking for amendments to benefits and pension plans as well. These are challenging and difficult issues, so how can negotiators achieve deals that can be ratified? How do union and management bargaining teams navigate these issues when the economy has stagnated? At times when government revenue is anemic, deficits are up, and private sector profits are much lower than normal? At times when unemployment is steady, but steady at a level that is over 3 percent higher than in the United States? At times when manufacturing jobs, long considered the backbone of a strong economy, have disappeared with few signs of rebounding?
Breaking Bad News about Organizational Change
Kate Sikerbol, Queen’s IRC Facilitator, 2016
Getting the news out about an upcoming restructuring, merger or acquisition, layoff, or other major organizational change can be a challenge. No one wants to experience having their name ‘pop up’ in a new organization chart that is widely distributed online before receiving any direct personal communication from their boss. Imagine if you showed up at the office and discovered that the reason why you cannot access your email is not because of a glitch with the IT department but because you have been dismissed, and no one had the courage to tell you. Organizations and managers have a responsibility to share such news in direct and supportive ways that enable employees to understand what is changing and how they will be affected.
Why is it so hard to deliver bad news to others? Perhaps you like to be the ‘nice guy’ and find it difficult to say no, or disappoint others. You may fear that you will become the target of anger and retaliation. Being the bearer of bad news can be emotionally upsetting, challenge our self-image, and disrupt relationships. Sometimes we face situations where our own beliefs and feelings, values and principles are in conflict. Caught in the middle, we might feel a bit ambivalent, or defensive, about the decisions made by the executive team, and yet we are the ones asked to deliver the message to employees.
In December 2014, Queen's IRC introduced a new two-day Coaching Skills program. With long-time Queen's IRC facilitator Françoise Morissette at the helm, the program promises to deliver essential coaching skills, tools and models to help participants master the coaching process and improve performance at the individual and organizational level.
"Coaching is popular because it's very portable and can be used formally or informally," said Françoise, the lead facilitator for the program. She said coaching is a good opportunity to turn knowledge into know-how. For organizations to compete, people development is becoming essential and employers are looking for opportunities to develop and manage talent. Training employees in coaching is one way to do that.
Talent is an organization's biggest asset, and Françoise said she has heard over and over again that it's not being managed well. "The program participants were very aware of the huge shifts happening in the world of work and how things will have to be different in the future of work." Coaching is part of a larger set of vital skills that include talent management and talent development.
Designing Collaborative Workplaces – Optimize Your Organization for Teamwork
Teamwork is essential to organizational success – but today, the speed of change and innovation is driving the need for an expanded team competence. To truly reap a collaborative advantage, organizations must transition from single, stable teams, to supporting a team of teams, a dynamic collaborative network that evolves and shifts to meet goals. The question therefore becomes: what conditions support collaboration as a workplace system; a team of teams?
We’ll explore the DNA of a collaborative workplace and how to promote it. We’ll discover that widespread collaboration requires a fresh perspective for defining and assigning work and a platform of norms, relationships, processes, technologies, and spaces that are quite different from the ways organizations have worked in the past.
Join us for a free webinar (hosted by the Canadian HR Reporter) where Queen's IRC facilitator Brenda Barker Scott will discuss designing collaborative workplaces.
Date: February 28, 2017 Time: 12-1 pm ET To pre-register for the webinar please clickhere
Remembering Roy Heenan
It is with much sadness that Queen's IRC has learned of the passing of Roy L. Heenan, founding Partner of the renowned law firm of Heenan Blaikie. Roy Heenan was recognized in Canada as the leading authority on labour law and administrative law. He was also an inspirational lecturer at our courses starting in 1992, and thereafter encouraged members of his firm to carry on this tradition of volunteering their expertise to educate successive generations of labour relations practitioners. He will be sorely missed in the labour relations and the legal communities.
Upcoming Conferences and Trade Shows
In April, Queen’s IRC will attend three conferences and trade shows. If you are planning to attend, please stop by our booth and say hello:
HR Leaders Summit West – April 4 at the Vancouver Convention Centre, Vancouver, BC.
Queen's Alumni Volunteer Summit – April 4, 2017 at Queen's University, Kingston, ON.
The HRIA 2017 Conference – April 26-27, 2017 at the Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton, AB.