Collective Bargaining 101

Collective Bargaining 101


The Bell clerical union will begin negotiating a new Collective Agreement in the Fall of 2021.  With this in mind, we have outlined the bargaining process so our members can know what is happening at every stage and how they can participate.  

Step 1.  Call for Bargaining Proposals.                

Who:  All Bell clerical unionized members.                                            When:  Early April, 2021.

There are over 4,400 clerical members covered by this Collective Agreement.  They are represented by 10 different union locals throughout Ontario and Quebec.  Each of these members has an opportunity to submit a bargaining proposal.  This is essentially any change, addition or amendment  members would like to see reflected in the new contract. 

Step 2.  Review of Bargaining Proposals.           

Who:  All Bell clerical unions.                                                                          When:  Late April, 2021

Each of the 10 union locals will hold a membership meeting to review all of the hundreds of bargaining proposals submitted by their members.  Many of the submissions are duplicated or very similar and through this and considering the merits and feasibility of each proposal, the number will be reduced to 40-50 items.  This list of bargaining proposals will get submitted to the bargaining caucus.

Step 3.  Election of Bargaining Caucus     

Who:  All Bell clerical unions.                                                                         When:  May, 2021

Each of the 10 union locals will elect representatives who will become part of the bargaining caucus that is the team that sits at the bargaining table.  The number of representatives each local can elect is proportionate to the size of the local.  Local 6004 is normally entitled to elect two representatives.  Any member who is interested in being part of the bargaining caucus can nominate themselves.  An election will be held in early May to select who will represent Local 6004.

Step 4.  Bargaining Caucus Meets/Election of Bargaining Committee                                   

Who:  All Bell clerical unions.                                                                       When:  June, 2021

After the representatives are duly elected from each union local, the new bargaining caucus will meet as a whole.  They will be assisted and supported by two Unifor National representatives, one from Ontario and one from Quebec.  At this time the caucus will further whittle down and consolidate the bargaining proposals from all locals.  The final list will be the items Unifor includes in what is called their Book of Demands, which is what will be brought to the bargaining table.   Also at this time, the Bargaining Committee will be elected from among members of the caucus.  That is made up of three members from Ontario and three from Quebec.  The Bargaining committee will be the ones elected to negotiate a new collective agreement.

Step 5.  Bargaining Begins.

Who:  Bargaining Committee and Bell                                                       When:  Fall, 2021

Both sides will arrive at the bargaining table with their respective book of demands.  Bargaining sessions will be scheduled with both sides and they will continue until a new contract offer is agreed upon.  Typically this stage will last three-five months if things go well.  It’s worth noting that this offer is not a new collective agreement until voted upon by the entire clerical membership.  Throughout negotiations the Bargaining Committee issues weekly updates as to the progress of the bargaining.  These updates are only sent to union members’ home email address.  They are not shared on the Bell network.

Step 6.  Contract Ratification.                     

Who:  All Bell clerical unions                                                                      When:  When a contract offer is presented

The contract ratification process involves the bargaining committee conducting visits to all of the 10 clerical unions and work locations throughout Ontario and Quebec.  At these meetings all members are given a chance to review the proposed agreement and ask questions to the bargaining committee.  All clerical members are then asked to vote on whether they accept the proposed agreement or not.

A simple majority is required to accept or ratify the agreement.

If the contract is ratified by the membership it takes effect on the day after the previous agreement expiring.  If negotiations continue beyond the contract expiration date the terms and conditions stay in effect until a new agreement is agreed to.  The company is responsible for the printing and distribution to all members of a copy of the new agreement. 

If the contract offer is rejected by membership, or there is no offer to vote on then bargaining sessions will continue.