Sauder School of Business

Leading in a Unionized Workplace

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About the course

Maintain Productive Working Relationships in a Union Setting

Designed with a managerial focus, the course provides practical guidance in how to maximize workforce productivity within the union-management context. Develop a framework for interpreting the collective agreement. Learn constructive ways to deal with conflict, grievances and disciplinary action. Foster collaborative interactions with employees and union representatives. Lead appropriately and confidently in a unionized setting.

What you will learn

  • Develop a solid framework for interpreting the collective agreement, and understand how it affects the key functions of management
  • See how union representatives view and respond to management
  • Minimize conflict with the union over managerial actions
  • Approach the grievance process constructively
  • Learn key arbitral principles shaping rights and obligations in the employment relationship
  • Uncover root causes of chronic problems and grievances
  • Reduce defensiveness, reactance and other negative dynamics through honest two-way communication

Program content

  • Challenges of leading a unionized workforce
  • The legal and collective agreement context; key principles shaping rights and obligations in the employment relationship
  • Understanding union culture and attitudes
  • Handling relations with union representatives: avoiding distractions and digressions, being pro-active
  • Responding effectively to grievances: investigating grievances, grievance negotiations
  • Positive approaches to performance management and discipline: identifying expectations and performance gaps, giving feedback, just cause for discipline
  • Daily chores: scheduling, defining and assigning work

Special features

This highly interactive course will incorporate discussions, case studies, group exercises, videos, simulations and personal assessment exercises.

Who should attend

This course is designed for front-line and middle managers responsible for leading unionized production, service and maintenance workforces. Supervisors and managers new to a unionized workplace will find the course particularly beneficial.

Trust the experts

Thomas Knight

Dr. Thomas R. Knight has over 30 years' experience as an educator, consultant and facilitator in a variety of areas of managerial and leadership practice. His areas of particular expertise include labour-management relations, negotiations, conflict resolution, leading change and transitions and a...


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