What makes a good bargaining demand?

Demands rooted in workplace problems and members’ needs: The strongest demands come out of demonstrated workplace needs. This would include:

  • situations where we have filed a grievance and lost because of problems with the existing language;
  • situations where normal requests are being unreasonably refused by management; and
  • demands related to significant changes in workplace conditions, for example the introduction of new shift schedules or change in jobs.

In all cases, it is essential that the bargaining demand be accompanied by rationale, which could include copies of grievances and the employer response, copies of employer directives, correspondence to members, etc.  Any evidence that would support the need to make changes to the collective agreement would assist your bargaining team.

Demands with momentum: It takes a lot of work to get management to accept that there are problems which must be addressed through collective bargaining. As a result, we have a better chance with demands which have been the subject of ongoing campaigns, or in-depth studies, or relate to problems where we have been putting sustained pressure on the employer through union-management committees, letter-writing, and lobbying. If you have copies of such letters, minutes of union-management committee meetings, etc. please attach them to your demand as rationale. The more demonstrated need we have, the better your bargaining team can support your demand at the bargaining table.

Demands with established precedents: In the world of collective bargaining, we have a somewhat easier time achieving demands which have already been negotiated into collective agreements between unions and employers. This doesn’t mean we don’t try for breakthroughs, but if you have a demand that you know exists in other collective agreements, it will help if you can mention this in the rationale you will provide in support of your demand.

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October 31, 2019