In unionized organizations management often feels they have lost substantial rights and ceded their authority to run the business to the union. While it is true that the relationship between management and employees changes when there is a union it does not necessarily mean you automatically give up your rights. The chief difference between a unionized organization and a non-union one is that the employment contract is no longer an individual arrangement but rather is an agreement with the union. All discussions about employment must be had with union representatives.

This is not a trivial distinction. It has a dramatic impact on your organizations culture. However, in many other respects management rights remain intact unless they are negotiated away. Generally, management has the right to hire, fire and discipline; the right to direct what work gets done, who does the work and when it gets done; the right to establish policies and procedures necessary for the efficient and safe operation of the business; and so on. In short management still runs the show.

In some instances, a company might choose to give up a certain right because doing so has no real effect on how the business is run. A collective agreement might prescribe that overtime be allocated to the senior qualified person rather than simply whomever the supervisor might choose to give the overtime to. This should be relatively benign. Management should not care who does the work as long as they are qualified, willing and able to perform the available work safely. In other cases, prescriptive clauses can impair a supervisor’s ability to manage efficiently by adding layers of procedures that do not add value in any readily apparent way.

Another way management rights can be eroded is through practices that are inconsistent with the collective agreement but become accepted as an operating norm. This happens when supervisors and managers are unaware of what the contract actually says or means and interpretations get fashioned on the shop floor to reduce conflicts. Sometimes dispute settlements are made to solve the immediate problem without understanding or considering the long-term consequences of the change.

Oakbridges’ Strategists help organizations retain and in some cases, regain management rights by providing strategic advice about how a collective agreement should be interpreted to optimize management’s latitude to make day-to-day decisions to run the business effectively and profitably. We offer bespoke training courses based on your organizations actual collective agreement so that supervisors and managers are completely aware of what they can and cannot do. We also help organizations establish the requisite governance structures and plan for collective bargaining with a view to ensuring management rights are preserved or enhanced.

Examining your organization’s management rights is a great way to unlock the potential for optimal productivity and profitability. We can help eliminate the constraints and impediments your management believes prevents them from performing to the high standard demanded in a competitive market.

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