Photo Paulette DeKelver
Mediation & Arbitration
Unions and Employers face the task of working together to come to agreement on working terms and conditions for a respective bargaining unit and to administer collective agreement terms.
In most cases, this goes well, or at least reasonably well, and the terms of the collective agreement are settled through collective bargaining and grievances are resolved through the grievance process set out in the collective agreement.
When the bargaining process breaks down or becomes stalled, either party can apply under the Alberta Labour Relations Code to have a mediator appointed to help with bargaining. Legislation requires that before parties can legally strike or lock out, they must first mediate. Once an application for mediation is approved, a mediator will be appointed. The mediator will arrange meetings with the parties and work with them to reach a collective agreement. Alternatively, the parties can set a matter for interest arbitration to settle the terms of the collective agreement.
Disputes over administering the collective agreement are often resolved through the grievance process and collaborative meetings with the Union and the Employer. When grievance disputes remain unresolved, the parties can set a matter for an arbitration hearing to decide the grievance. Often parties voluntarily agree to an arbitrator to chair the arbitration panel. In the alternative, a nominee for either party can apply to Mediation Services to have a chair of the arbitration panel appointed. Once appointed, the Chair convenes the panel, either with nominees or sitting alone, and proceeds to administer the hearing through to an outcome.