Managing Effectively in a Unionized Workplace

Benefits of This Program:

  • Understanding the collective agreement and relevant employment and labour statutes
  • Not managing “just to get through the day”
  • Raising productivity and learning to avoid costly mistakes as well as time consuming and frustrating grievances
  • Empowering managers to perform at optimal levels with results that create immediate and measurable bottom line results


  • How to nip problems in the bud, cut costs, and reduce the number of grievances and arbitrations
  • How to manage with confidence and consistency
  • When and how to use non-disciplinary interventions
  • How to create and enforce employer rules
  • When and how to impose discipline
  • How to investigate like a trained professional
  • How to manage absenteeism more effectively
  • How to handle grievances, settlements, and arbitrations


Introduction and General Principles

Levelling the playing field / providing management with tools to do the job

  • Role of employee, union, and manager/supervisor
  • Union’s Duty of Fair Representation

Limits on Management Power: The Broader Legal Context

  • The Collective Agreement
  • The Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000
  • Hours of work, public holidays, emergency leave, overtime averaging
  • The Ontario Human Rights Code
  • The Ontario Labour Relations Act, 1995
  • Other employment-related statutes: WSIA, OHSA
  • Civil liability

Before Discipline: Probation, Counselling and Employer Rules

  • Avoiding problems before they start: using the probation period effectively
  • Status of probationary employees under collective agreements
  • Does just cause protection apply: if not, what does
  • Termination for unsuitability
  • Non-disciplinary interventions: advantages and disadvantages
  • Employer rules
  • Creating employer rules and enforcing them, penalty for breach

Discipline: Part I – When Can You Impose Discipline and What It Should Be?

  • The meaning of the “just cause” standard
  • Grounds for discipline
  • Looking at: insubordination, theft, sabotage, criminal conduct, violence/threats/bullying/verbal abuse/ harassment, absenteeism, health and safety infractions
  • The appropriate level of discipline: factors to consider
  • Doctrine of the “culminating incident”
  • Procedural requirements

Discipline: Part II – Investigating Misconduct and Implementing your Decision

  • Types of evidence: physical, photographic, sketches and drawings, narrative
  • Interviewing employees and witnesses
  • Taking notes that can be used in arbitration
  • Drug and alcohol testing
  • Video surveillance
  • Personal searches
  • What happens if the employee is charged with a criminal offence
  • Communicating discipline
  • Disciplinary letter

Managing Absenteeism in a Unionized Workplace

  • Distinction between “culpable” and “innocent” absenteeism
  • Dealing with disabilities
  • Terminating for innocent absenteeism
  • Confronting an employee about absenteeism

Grievances, Settlements and Arbitration

  • Step 1 to resolution
  • Ongoing liability vs. fixed liability cases
  • Settlement as an alternative to arbitration
  • Mediation as a settlement vehicle
  • “Last chance” agreements
  • Arbitration: making the decision to arbitrate, preparing your case, conducting the hearing

Book an In-House or Remote Program

For further information on our training, please call your lawyer at the Firm. If you are not a current client, please contact:

Program Administrator
Tel: 416-862-1616 or 1-866-821-7306