• Across-the-board adjustment

    Change in pay rates made for all employees in a workplace.
  • Arbitration

    (also called grievance arbitration) A mechanism for providing final and binding resolution to a dispute under a collective agreement.  A neutral third party, the arbitrator, is brought in to hear the case and, either alone or as part of an arbitration panel, to render a decision.  Expedited arbitration, available under the Labour Relations Act, is a speedier version of this process.  Interest arbitration refers to the use of a third party to resolve the terms of the collective agreement itself.
  • Attrition

    A system of reducing the number of employees in a workforce through measures other than layoffs. Generally, employees who retire or resign are not replaced.

  • Bargaining

    The legally-prescribed process of discussion and give-and-take through which a collective agreement between an employer and a union is achieved.
  • Bargaining agent

    Union designated by a labour relations board or similar representative of all employees in a bargaining unit for the purpose of collective bargaining.
  • Bargaining unit

    Group of workers in a craft, department, plant, firm, industry or occupation, determined by a labour relations board or similar body as appropriate for representation by a union for purposes of collective bargaining.
  • Binding arbitration

    Binding arbitration occurs when the parties negotiating a collective agreement agree to refer any or all outstanding bargaining issues to a third party (usually an arbitrator or an arbitration board). After each party presents their submissions, the arbitrator/arbitration board issues an award about the outstanding issues that is binding on both parties.

  • Certification

    Official designation by a labour relations board or similar government agency of a union as sole and exclusive bargaining agent, following proof of majority support among employees in a bargaining unit.
  • Checkoff

    A clause in a collective agreement authorizing an employer to deduct union dues and, sometimes, other assessments and transmit these funds to the union.
  • COLA (Cost of Living Allowance)

    Period pay increase negotiated into a collective agreement/contract based on changes in the Consumer Price Index.
  • Collective agreement

    A contract (agreement and contract are used interchangeably) between one or more unions – acting as a bargaining agent – and one or more employers, covering wages, hours, working conditions, fringe benefits, rights of workers and unions, and procedures to be followed in settling disputes and grievances.
  • Collective bargaining

    Method of determining wages, hours and other conditions of employment through direct negotiations between the union and employer. Normally the result of collective bargaining is a written contract which covers all employees in the bargaining unit, both union members and non-union members.
  • Conciliation

    A process under the Labour Relations Act which either side during collective bargaining may initiate in order to break an impasse.  A provincially-appointed conciliator is brought in to meet with the parties in an effort to resolve the dispute.  See "no-board report"
  • Consumer Price Index (CPI)

    Statistics Canada's monthly statistical study which checks retail prices of selected consumer items in a representative group of cities. Strictly, it is not a cost-of-living index, though it is often so described.
  • Contract proposals

    Proposed changes to the collective agreement put forward by the union or the employer and subject to collective bargaining.

  • Decertification

    Withdrawal by a Labour Relations Board of its certification of a union as exclusive bargaining representative.
  • Duty to accommodate

    An employer's obligation under the Human Rights Code to make every effort, short of undue hardship, to ensure a non-discriminatory workplace.  This could mean, for example, providing appropriate equipment to an employee who is visually impaired.  Unions also have obligations under the Code.

  • Estoppel

    A legal doctrine according to which a party to a collective agreement, through a failure to insist on its strict legal rights under that agreement, can potentially jeopardize its ability to enforce those rights in future.

  • Freeze Period

    The statutory freeze period is a provision in Section 86 of the Labour Relations Act. It puts a “freeze” on changing wages, working conditions and employment conditions during bargaining.

  • Grandparenting

    “Grandparented” (sometimes also called “red-circled”) clauses or benefits are those clauses which, despite changes negotiated into a collective agreement, are preserved for certain entitlements, rates of pay or classification.
  • Gratuity

    A gratuity is one of a number of forms of payment in the public or private sector. Variations of gratuities include: retirement gratuity; longevity gratuity; service gratuity. Retirement gratuities are paid at the time of the employee's retirement from the service. Longevity and service gratuities can be based on an employee's salary and total years of service. This amount of a gratuity may consist of a lump sum or an annuity, or a combination of both.
  • Grievance

    A dispute over the interpretation, application, administration or alleged violation of the collective agreement. See arbitration.

  • Injunction

    A court order restraining an employer or union from committing or engaging in certain acts.
  • Intervention

    Intervention is a procedure that allows a person or organization not directly involved in a legal matter to join in the proceedings. That person/organization would be called an intervener (also spelled intervenor). Intervention may occur when a decision in a particular case may affect the rights of parties outside the case, and therefore those parties should have the right to be heard. For example, if the proposed intervener represents a group of people who have a direct concern in the issues raised in the case or complaint, or would be affected by any decision rendered by a court, tribunal or board, then seeking intervener status might be in order.

  • Job evaluation

    A system designed to create a hierarchy of jobs based on factors such as skill, responsibility or experience, time and effort. Often used for the purpose of arriving at a rational system of wage differentials between jobs or classes of jobs.
  • Just cause

    A standard of proof which an employer must meet in order to terminate an employee, provided there is a “just cause clause” in the collective agreement.

  • Labour Relations Board

    A board established under provincial or federal labour relations legislation to administer labour law, including certification of trade unions as bargaining agents, investigation of unfair labour practices and other functions prescribed under the legislation.
  • Local union

    The basic unit of union organization. Trade unions are usually divided into a number of local administrations. These locals have their own constitutions and elect their own officers; they are usually responsible for the negotiation and day-to-day administration of the collective agreements covering their members.
  • Lockout

    Under the Labour Relations Act, a lock-out “includes the closing of a place of employment, a suspension of work or a refusal by the employer to continue to employ a number of employees, with a view to compel or induce the employees, or to aid another employer to compel or induce the employer’s employees, to refrain from exercising their rights or privileges under this Act or to agree to provisions or changes in provisions respecting the terms or conditions of employment or the rights, privileges or duties of the employer.”

  • Management Rights

    The body of rights including hiring, scheduling of hours of operation and contracting which management generally contends are not proper subjects for collective bargaining.
  • Mediation

    A means of settling labour disputes whereby the contending parties use a third person - called a mediator - as a neutral go-between.
  • Mobilization

    A coordinated process that informs, educates, engages and motivates union members.  Mobilization allows every member to play a positive role in improving their working conditions and building a strong voice in the workplace.
  • Model agreement

    A union contract setting basic standards for employers and unions covered by the agreement who will negotiation further on local subjects.

  • No-board report

    A part of the conciliation process which starts the clock ticking to a strike or lockout.  Sixteen days after the release of the no-board report by the Minister of Labour, the parties are in a legal strike or lockout position (subject to other conditions having been met).  The term “no-board” refers to the decision by the Minister not to appoint a conciliation board to deal with the dispute.

  • Pattern Bargaining

    An approach to bargaining where the union tries to bargain the same wages or conditions in different but related workplaces in order to establish or improve minimum standards in those workplaces.
  • Picketing

    Patrolling near employer's place of business by union members - pickets - to publicize the existence of a labour dispute, persuade workers to join a strike or join the union, discouraging customers from buying or using employer's goods or service, etc.
  • Posting

    Required display of the vacancies available for completion within the bargaining unit.
  • Preferential hiring

    A system under which employers agree to hire only union workers so long as the union is able to fill demands for workers.
  • Preliminary submission

    The union's initial set of bargaining proposals tabled with management during a round of collective bargaining.
  • Probationary period

    Trial period. Time during which a new employee is on trial by the employer and usually subject to a lower standard for discharge, except where the discharge is discriminatory.

  • Rand formula

    Also called agency shop. A union security clause in a collective agreement stating that the employer agrees to deduct an amount equal to the union dues from all members of the bargaining unit whether or not they are members of the union, for the duration of the collective agreement. See Checkoff. 
  • Ratification

    The process whereby a tentative settlement in negotiations is submitted to the membership for a vote.
  • Recognition

    Employer acceptance of a union as the exclusive bargaining representative for the employees in the bargaining unit.
  • Reopener

    A provision calling for reopening a collective agreement at a specified time prior to its expiration for bargaining on stated subjects such as a wage increase, pension, health and welfare, etc.

  • Scab

    A person who continues to work or who accepts employment to replace workers who are on strike. By filling their jobs, he may weaken or break the strike.
  • Seniority

    Term used to designate an employee's status relative to other employees, as in determining order of layoff, promotion, recall, transfer, vacations, etc. Depending on the provisions of the collective agreement, seniority can be based on length of service alone or on additional factors such as ability or union duties.
  • Severance pay

    Lump sum payment by the employer to a worker laid off permanently through no fault of the worker.
  • Slowdown

    A deliberate lessening of work effort without an actual strike, in order to force concessions from the employer. A variation of this is called a work-to-rule strike - a concerted slowdown in which workers, tongue in cheek, simply obey all laws and rules applying to their work.
  • Steward

    A union official who represents a specific group of members and the union in union duties, grievance matters, and other employment conditions. Stewards are usually part of the workforce they represent.
  • Strike

    A cessation of work or a refusal to work or to continue work by employees in combination or in accordance with a common understanding for the purpose of compelling an employer to agree to terms or conditions of employment. Usually the last stage of collective bargaining when all other means have failed.  Except in special cases, strikes are legal when a collective agreement is not in force. A rotating strike is a strike organized in such a way that only part of the employees stop work at any given time, each group taking its turn. A sympathy strike is a strike by workers not directly involved in a labour dispute - an attempt to bring pressure on a employer in a labour dispute. A wildcat strike is an illegal strike violating the collective agreement and not authorized by the union.
  • Strike vote

    The secret-ballot vote which must be held in order for a legal strike to occur.  For the vote to pass, more than 50% of those voting must vote in favour.
  • Strikebreaker

    A person who continues to work or who accepts employment to replace workers who are on strike. By filling their jobs, he may weaken or break the strike.
  • Strip

    The removal of an entitlement or benefit from a contract or collective agreement.
  • Supplemental Employment Benefits (SEB)

    A provision in the collective agreement to redress income loss incurred as a result of a maternity or parental leave.

  • Unfair labour practice

    Those employer or union activities that are classed as “unfair” by labour relations acts.

  • Voluntary recognition

    An employer and a trade union may agree that the employer shall recognize the trade union as the exclusive bargaining agent of the employees in a defined bargaining unit.

  • Walkout

    Loose term for a strike.