Home|Conferences & Workshops|Bargaining in the Broader Public Sector Conference - Toronto


Bargaining in the Broader Public Sector Conference

Toronto • December 3, 2019
Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel


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Tuesday, December 3, 2019


Registration and Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:10 AM  


Panel 1


Open for Business? Evaluating economic policy, forecasting the trends

9:10 AM - 10:30 AM

* Panelists to be announced

Panel Summary

The global economy has barely emerged from the great recession, but already economists are noting slower economic growth. The Financial Accountability Office of Ontario, for example, forecasts "slower but steady economic growth" in Ontario for the next five years and notes that the government's current fiscal plan is vulnerable to an economic downturn, which is a distinct possibility given "heavily indebted Ontario households and an uncertain trade and investment environment." What does this outlook mean for employers and unions in Ontario's broader public sector? Are real wage increases and service improvements off the table until the middle of the next decade? In this session, leading economists will address these general questions as well as the following:

  • What do the key economic indicators signal for the short- and long-term economic situation in Ontario and Canada? What factors are driving or slowing economic growth? What are the main risks to continued economic prosperity? Is an economic downturn in the next five years likely, given the past cycle of economic expansion and recession?
  • What is the state of the province's finances? How does it compare to other provinces? Is the cost of servicing Ontario's debt unsustainable? Is the deficit — and the need to continue running one for several years — the product of a spending problem or of a revenue problem? In other words, is Ontario spending too much on public services, or is there room for Ontario to raise taxes without causing broader economic harm?
  • Are general economic conditions and provincial government policies constraining municipal governments to such an extent that they simply do not have the ability to agree to wage increases above inflation or to increase services? Is Toronto's situation any different from other Ontario municipalities?
  • What are notable trends in the labour market? Are the trends in the private sector different from those in the broader public sector? Are trends in municipal employment different from those in the provincial public service? For example, how do recent wage gains compare? Is involuntary part-time or precarious work becoming more common? How might these labour market trends influence demands at the bargaining table?
  • How are the current economic forecast and the government's current financial position likely to affect the 2020 provincial budget?

BREAK (with refreshments)

10:30 AM - 10:45 AM

Tuesday, December 3, 2019


Registration and Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:10 AM  


Panel 2


Balancing the Budget, Reducing the Deficit? The role of government in bargaining

10:45 AM - 12:00 PM

* Panelists to be announced

Panel Summary

Since sweeping to power in June 2018, Ontario's Progressive Conservative government has implemented policy changes at what Premier Doug Ford has termed "lightning speed." Negotiators must now adjust to cope with government priorities and initiatives that differ vastly from those of the previous Liberal government led by Kathleen Wynne. In this session, experts will provide an overview of the role of government in bargaining in a rapidly changing legal and political landscape.

  • How have changes enacted by the provincial government affected bargaining? What relevant changes are on the horizon, and what are the implications for bargaining?
  • Has the current government taken a more active role in collective bargaining in the broader public sector?
  • What role should the government play in bargaining? Should the law change to recognize the government's role as a party in negotiations?
  • Does the Charter constrain the government's ability to enact wage restraint or back-to-work legislation? What types of legislative restraints on bargaining or interventions in bargaining will survive Charter scrutiny?
  • What is the status of current Charter challenges to legislation affecting bargaining?

NETWORKING LUNCH

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Tuesday, December 3, 2019


Registration and Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:10 AM  


Panel 3


Rewriting the Playbook: Bargaining approaches that preserve relationships

1:00 PM - 2:15 PM

* Panelists to be announced

Panel Summary

Sixty years ago, Justice Ivan Rand famously made the observation that "a strike is not a tea party." The same might be said of collective bargaining. Both employers and unions enter negotiations seeking to protect and promote important — sometimes competing — interests. Some differences may be incapable of resolution without acrimonious work stoppages, but adopting less adversarial approaches to bargaining may help parties amicably come to an agreement that protects or advances important interests on both sides. In this session, experienced negotiators will provide an overview of different bargaining approaches and postures, using their own experience to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each and providing tips on changing approaches and on preserving productive union-management relations during difficult rounds of bargaining. Specific issues to be addressed include the following:

  • What are the characteristics of the major approaches to collective bargaining? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each approach? Are certain approaches more conducive to fostering trust and positive labour relations than others?
  • Can "integrative" or "mutual gains bargaining" be combined with "distributive" or "positional bargaining," or are the approaches mutually exclusive? Might the choice of approach differ from one issue to another?
  • How do different "bargaining postures" or strategies relate to the major approaches to collective bargaining? How might different postures or strategies affect union-management relationships both during bargaining and in the longer term? What can be done to minimize the damage done to union-management relationships that may be caused by certain postures or strategies? What are some tips for getting the opposing party to adopt less adversarial bargaining postures or strategies?
  • How should the existing relationship with the other side affect a party's choice of bargaining approach? What about external factors such as the general economic environment or political climate — how should they affect a party's choice?
  • What groundwork needs to be laid if a party decides to change its approach to bargaining? When does this groundwork need to be laid down? What — if any — participation is required from the other party?
  • How do the personalities of individual members of negotiating teams affect bargaining? What can be done to prevent or minimize interpersonal conflict that may adversely affect negotiations?

BREAK (with refreshments)

2:15 PM - 2:30 PM

Tuesday, December 3, 2019


Registration and Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:10 AM  


Panel 4


Enhancing Psychological Health and Safety: What’s the best approach?

2:30 PM - 3:45 PM

* Panelists to be announced

Panel Summary

As a result of recent but profound changes to working practices, workplace psychosocial hazards and work-related stress are emerging as major occupational health and safety issues. Technological change and the intensification of work that often accompanies it can adversely affect workers' mental health. Increased flexibility in the organization of work can create job insecurity, which also negatively affects psychological well-being. Workplace violence and harassment also continue to compromise the psychological health and safety of many workers, particularly in health care. In this session, leading experts will provide guidance on developing joint union-management strategies to address the increasingly important issue of psychological health and safety.

  • What is the "business case" for ensuring workplace psychological health and safety? What are the potential financial costs to employers that fail to ensure psychologically healthy workplaces in terms of reduced productivity, increased insurance costs, and legal damage awards?
  • What do unions, employees, and employers stand to gain from a cooperative approach? Is there evidence that joint strategies are any more or less effective than psychological health and safety or wellness policies unilaterally promulgated by the employer? What are the potential drawbacks of joint strategies?
  • Should workplace policies and programs regarding workplace harassment and violence be integrated into psychological health and safety policies and programs? If so, how?
  • What role should the National Standard of Canada on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace ("National Standard") play in workplace psychological health and safety policies and programs? Is it possible to create a psychologically safe and healthy workplace without meeting the requirements of the National Standard? Do adjudicators look to the National Standard to determine the content of an employer's general obligation under occupational health and safety legislation to "take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker"?
  • Should parties negotiate detailed psychological health and safety provisions into collective agreements or negotiate only general collective agreement language and leave the details to joint policies and/or joint union-management committees? What role should joint health and safety committees play in addressing psychological health and safety?
  • How can language in a collective agreement or letter of understanding be structured to ensure that both parties make optimal use of joint strategies regarding psychological health and safety? What are some examples of effective joint union-management psychological health and safety policies and/or programs?
  • What "groundwork" needs to be laid for an effective psychological health and safety program? For example, what information on workplace psychosocial hazards is required? How should it be gathered? What tools should be used to measure different indicators of psychological well-being, such as employee stress levels?
  • Should a comprehensive approach to workplace psychological health and safety involve review — and possibly renegotiation — of collective agreement provisions and workplace policies dealing with issues such as overtime, workload, scheduling, job security, and insured benefits for mental health services?
  • How can workplace parties evaluate whether their approach to psychological health and safety is effective? Can workplace parties accurately measure improvement in employee well-being?

CONFERENCE ENDS

3:45 PM

NETWORKING RECEPTION

3:45 PM - 4:45 PM

Keynote Speakers


Monday, December 2, 2019


Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  

Difficult Bargaining: Identifying and overcoming obstacles to agreement

9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

* Workshop leaders to be announced

Workshop Summary

Finding the common ground that makes negotiation of a collective agreement possible can be a difficult process at the best of times. However, when external factors such as funding cuts and government-imposed mandates seriously limit the options available to unions and employers, a normally difficult process can become nearly impossible. Is there a way to make the process easier, or to prevent parties from becoming so entrenched in their own positions — and their own views of the other side — that agreement is impossible?

In this interactive full-day workshop, experienced negotiators from both sides of the table will provide guidance on effectively using interest-based and other approaches to bargaining.

Participants will learn to:

  • Use more productive strategies when engaged in positional bargaining;
  • Identify situations in which interest-based bargaining can be used effectively;
  • Communicate effectively to identify needs and interests underlying demands;
  • Generate creative options to solve tough problems; and
  • Build and preserve productive union-management relationships through bargaining.

VIEW THE WORKSHOP AGENDA



Thursday, December 5, 2019


Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  

Mending Fences: Restoring the workplace after a harassment investigation

9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

* Workshop leaders to be announced

Workshop Summary

In the #MeToo era, employers and unions have become familiar with the duty to investigate allegations of workplace harassment. But what happens once the investigation is complete? Harassment investigations often have unintended negative effects within the workplace: they can damage relationships, lower productivity, exacerbate underlying conflicts, and jeopardize psychological health and safety. Workplace parties have consequently become increasingly aware of the need to address restoration following a harassment investigation. In this interactive workshop, participants will explore the role of restoration in responding to workplace harassment, with a focus on the following:

  • How restoration benefits the workplace;
  • When restoration is appropriate;
  • How employers, unions, and employees can prepare for a restoration process;
  • The different types of interventions used in restoration; and
  • The ways in which workplace parties can support and contribute to restorative efforts in their workplaces.

VIEW THE WORKSHOP AGENDA



Thursday, December 5, 2019


Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  

Family Support from Hiring to Retiring: Applying leave and accommodation policies throughout the career cycle

9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

* Workshop leaders to be announced

Workshop Summary

At various points throughout their careers, many employees will seek leave or accommodation to fulfill their family obligations. As more Canadian workers find themselves in the "sandwich generation," squeezed between caring for their children and caring for their elderly parents, employers and unions will increasingly face accommodation requests from employees in need of family support. In this interactive workshop, experienced labour relations practitioners will explore leave and accommodation in the context of family-related milestones and responsibilities, including pregnancy, childcare, and eldercare. Participants will gain the knowledge necessary to:

  • Understand when the duty to accommodate arises in relation to employees with family obligations;
  • Recognize and avoid workplace discrimination against employees on the basis of pregnancy or family status;
  • Ensure fair treatment of employees returning to work from pregnancy or parental leave;
  • Distinguish between the roles and responsibilities of the employer, union, and employee in family status accommodation; and
  • Craft effective workplace policies that address family-related leave and accommodation.

VIEW THE WORKSHOP AGENDA



CPD


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