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The Art of Negotiation

Drafting Clear Contract Language: An in-depth skills training session

A clearly written collective agreement makes it easier for management, union representatives, and workers to understand their rights and obligations. Poorly written clauses can become the subject of disputes and costly arbitration. This hands-on training session is designed to provide bargaining committee members, labour lawyers, human resources professionals, and other labour relations professionals with the skills and knowledge necessary to:

  • Interpret collective agreement language using rules of construction accepted by arbitrators.
  • Recognize ambiguous provisions.
  • Understand the concept of "estoppel".
  • Develop a process for negotiating clear contract language.
  • Make existing contract language clear to managers, supervisors, union stewards, and employees "on the shop floor."
  • Identify common words, phrases, and stylistic problems that make contracts unclear.
  • Modernize the structure and format of contracts.



E-mail Stephanie Amaral or call (416) 977-6618 for more information. We can help to tailor a Customized Training package for you.

Sample Schedule

9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.


  • Introduction of workshop leaders.
  • Attendees will explain their goals and expectations for the day.

9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

 PART 1  Why bother to cost?

The objectives and strategic importance of costing practices will be introduced. Key question to be addressed includes:

  • How does the function of costing fit into a broader strategic approach to negotiations?

10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

 PART 2  Key concepts and potential pitfalls

Key costing concepts such as total compensation, roll up, compounding, etc. will be introduced. Other key issues to be addressed include:

  • Can an employer and a union both acting in good faith cost the same bargaining proposals differently? If so, how does this happen? Is there a way to reconcile the different calculations?
  • What is the relationship between total compensation and comparability?

10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.


10:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

 PART 3  Mechanics of Costing

  • The ten steps to creating a base year model will be explained.

11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

 EXERCISE 1  Identifying the elements of compensation

  • Working in small groups, attendees will review mock collective agreements to identify all the elements of compensation.
  • Workshop leaders will provide feedback and answer questions.

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.


1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

 EXERCISE 2  Collecting information about compensation

Working in small groups, attendees will learn to identify what information is needed, where to get it, and how to request it.

  • Legal obligations regarding disclosure will be discussed.

2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

 PART 4  Ability to Pay

Key issues concerning ability to pay will be discussed, including:

  • How does ability to pay factor into negotiations?
  • What does an employer need to produce at the bargaining table or at arbitration to sustain a claim of inability to pay?

2:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.


2:45 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

 EXERCISE 3  Using the base year model to cost proposals

Working in small groups, attendees will work through the steps for creating a base year budget.

  • Workshop leaders will provide feedback and answer questions.

3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

 CONCLUSION  Wrap-up and Q & A

Session leaders will provide a concise review of important concepts and skills covered during the training session and will take questions from participants.

Additional Information

Includes materials, with case summaries and analyses, prepared by Lancaster's legal staff.