Collective bargaining is the process of establishing a collective bargaining agreement (or CBA or CA or “contract”) between an employer (in our case, BCIT) and its employees represented by an independent trade union (in our case, the BCITFSA). Our recent collective agreements have had a duration of 3-5 years each time, so the opportunity to make meaningful changes to our work conditions, by making changes to the CA is not one not to be missed. Should our current collective agreement expire on June 30, 2019, without BCIT and the BCITFSA having come to a new agreement, the current agreement will continue to be in force until a new agreement is negotiated and ratified by both sides.
Traditionally, both parties solicit input from their members and bring a number of proposals forward to the bargaining table. These proposals generally solve problems, address changes in practice, legislation or work, address errors, or alter employee or management rights. Over the course of weeks and months both parties present their proposals, ask questions of the other, and do (more) research and investigation.
Only then, does the back and forth of bargaining really begin. There needs to be an appetite on both sides to a) solve a problem, and b) solve it with a particular approach, in order for a proposal to move forward. Often this-for-that trades are required to come to an agreement. This leads to a number of proposals not making it past the bargaining table. It also means that the resulting language changes may not be precisely to our liking, but it was the best we could achieve.
In the end, the collection of proposals that are signed off by both parties are incorporated into the collective agreement and make up the terms of employment for the length of the new contract, at which point the process starts all over again…Leave a reply →