About collective bargaining  

What is collective bargaining?

Collective bargaining is the process under which the negotiation of the collective agreement takes place. 

The Industrial Relations Act of New Brunswick requires both parties to meet in a timely manner and to make every reasonable effort to negotiate in good faith with a view to the renewal of an existing collective agreement. 

What is a collective agreement?
A collective agreement is a written contract between an employer and a union which contains the terms and conditions of employment (e.g. rates of pay, rights and obligations) that apply to all members of the particular group of employees represented by the union — also known as bargaining unit.

How does collective bargaining begin?

Under the Industrial Relations Act of New Brunswick, either party must give notice between 90 and 30 days before expiration of the current collective agreement. 

Once notice is given both sides must meet as soon as possible but no later than 20 days after the notice was given (unless extended upon mutual agreement of the parties), to commence bargaining and must make every reasonable effort to reach an agreement.

Have formal negotiations begun?
Yes. Mount Allison received formal notice to bargain from the Mount Allison Faculty Association (MAFA) full and part-time units on May 25, 2016. The University and MAFA collective bargaining teams have been meeting since June.

During the bargaining process, can the parties seek outside assistance in reaching agreement?
Yes. If the parties are unable to agree on the terms of a new collective agreement, either party (or both) may initiate the conciliation process by asking the minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour to appoint a conciliator.

About conciliation

What is the role of a conciliator?
The conciliator acts as a neutral third party by helping both parties work towards a mutually satisfactory solution and a new collective agreement. A conciliator does not have the authority to bind the parties or impose a new agreement on them, however can make recommendations based on observations in an effort to guide the parties through the process. At the end of the conciliation process, the conciliator provides a report to the minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour.

Is it unusual for a conciliator to be brought in?
Although conciliators are not involved in all bargaining processes, it is an often-used practice. At Mount Allison, for example, conciliation has commonly been part of the bargaining process. A formal process is in place for the appointment of a conciliator, and this process requires a formal request by one (or both) parties.

What if no agreement is reached during the conciliation process?
If no agreement can be reached by the parties, the conciliation officer may declare an impasse and will file a report with the minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour. The minister will review the report and, within 15 days, decide whether to appoint a conciliation board. The minister may, at any time, also appoint a mediator to assist the parties in reaching an agreement. The bargaining parties are still able to continue negotiations during this period, if they choose.

What happens if the minister appoints a conciliation board?
Each party nominates a representative to the board and those representatives agree on a third person who serves as chair. Within 14 days of the appointment of the chair, or such longer time as may be agreed to by the parties or by the minister, the board will issue its report. The recommendations contained in the report are not binding on the parties unless the parties agree to be bound by the recommendations in the report.

What if the minister does not appoint a conciliation board?
Seven days after the minister releases a notice that he has decided not to appoint a conciliation board the Faculty Association may approach its membership to hold a formal strike vote or the University may lock out the employees. The parties can continue to negotiate during this time. The minister may also choose to appoint a mediator to assist the parties in reaching a collective agreement.

What is the role of a mediator?
A mediator acts as a neutral third party and attempts to help both parties resolve their differences and come to a mutally-agreeable solution and a new collective agreement. 

Further questions
If you have any further questions about the collective bargaining process, we encourage you to consult the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour FAQs.
Questions may also be directed to negotiations@mta.ca