Bargaining basics

Bargaining is a democratic process where your union and employer negotiate the terms and conditions of your collective agreement, or contract.  

HEU members are covered by different collective agreements, depending on where they work.

This agreement determines your wages and benefits, including:

  • hours of work
  • seniority
  • vacation entitlement
  • sick leave provisions
  • health and safety protocol
  • and many other union rights and workplace protections

HEU members are represented at the negotiating table by a bargaining committee, a group of members democratically elected at a local meeting or conference.

As an HEU member, you may be a member of a bargaining association. This means locals from different work sites and different employers join together and bargain as a group.

Or you may be part of HEU’s independent sector, where members at a single work site bargain directly with one employer.

Either way, HEU members are involved in bargaining, with the support of HEU’s professional bargaining staff.

In this section, you will find out how bargaining associations work, how bargaining proposals are written, and how members can get involved.

The basics of how HEU bargaining works

Your new or renewed contract is bargained by a committee of members like you, supported by HEU staff.

HEU members take part in bargaining

From serving on a bargaining committee, attending a conference, or voting on an agreement, there are many ways for members be heard.

Bargaining has its own language

Collective agreements are legal documents that have their own words and phrases. Get familiar with some of the specialized terms.

Bargaining proposals come from members

These are changes members want to see in their next agreement. Members write them, and locals vote on them. What changes do you want?

About public sector bargaining associations

Most HEU members are in the Facilities Bargaining Association, or other public sector associations, where you bargain as a group with other locals.

Our independent bargaining sector

About 20 per cent of HEU members work for private or non-profit employers, and aren’t in a bargaining association. Find out how it works in your local.

What happens at the bargaining table?

After the bargaining committee has negotiated the best deal they can, it’s time to take a tentative agreement to the members for a vote.

The role of bargaining committee members

If you know your workplace well, enjoy working in a group and want to represent your fellow members, find out what’s involved.