A substantial portion of Rachael’s law practice is dedicated to labour relations in both the public and private sector. She provides strategic legal and practical advice to resolve workplace grievances and human resource issues as they arise. She has a proven track record of navigating clients through all aspects of union certification, collective bargaining, strike/lockout, interest arbitration, grievance hearings, conciliation, mediation, and mediation/arbitration, OLRB applications, OLRB mediation and hearings. Trust is central to effective labour relations and our team works with management to ensure employers maintain and build that trust, and if broken, rebuild it.
Rachael works with management to determine bargaining goals, strategies and directions in collective bargaining. Collective agreement negotiations balance the rights and interests of the employer and its employees represented by their union. Our team can help you navigate all aspects of the collective bargaining process including:
- preparing bargaining teams for negotiations
- ongoing advice on drafting contract (collective agreement) language and negotiation strategies
- representation at the collective bargaining table
- acting as chief spokesperson in collective bargaining
- overall preparation for bargaining, drafting of proposals and positions and in representing them at the bargaining table. For employers that prefer to lead the bargaining, we act as a backroom advisor providing strategic legal advice and support.
- avoiding work stoppage or expensive interest arbitration
- representation at interest arbitration when necessary
Collective Bargaining Impasse
If negotiations breakdown, our team can help you prepare for and manage a strike or lockout to avoid unnecessary disruption to your operations. Rachael assists in preparing a strike protocol when strike/lockout is imminent because an impasse is reached at the bargaining table.
To avoid potential unfair labour practice complaints, you need to know how to determine and navigate:
- whether certain work action constitutes a strike,
- managing effective stakeholder communications,
- obtaining and adhering to Ontario Labour Relations Board Orders,
- restrictions on the use of replacement workers,
- communications with striking employees,
- managing picket line activities and,
- obtaining injunctive relief, if necessary.
Rachael has the experience and resources to help you get the most out of interest arbitration. Interest arbitration is a process outside of strikes and lock outs used to resolve negotiation impasses between an employer and union during collective bargaining in order to renew, revise, or enter into a new collective agreement. Knowledge of the law and information needed outside the collective agreement is key to successfully achieving the best collective agreement. Our team can assist with:
- ongoing advice and strategy to achieve the best outcome;
- preparing written briefs with evidence for submission;
- orally present legal arguments on outstanding issues at hearing;
- provide guidance with ratification and implementation process; and
- if appropriate, judicial review of arbitration decision
To understand the difference between Interest Arbitration and Rights Arbitration please read Getting the Most out of Interest Arbitrations: Keys to Success co-authored with Donald B. Shanks.
Grievance and Arbitration (Rights Arbitration)
A substantial part of Rachael’s practice consists of representing clients throughout the rights arbitration process. She provides advice prior to and during grievance settlement discussions/meetings, mediations, and grievance arbitration hearings. Rachael and her team regularly deal with grievances relating to discipline, dismissal, human rights and accommodation, management rights, benefit entitlement, salary structure, performance evaluation, contracting out, and technological changes.
Rachael regularly represents clients throughout the year in grievance arbitration hearings. This arbitration work is a source of important relationships and knowledge of: unions, union representatives or counsel, and arbitrators all of which contributes to a dynamic that favours best outcomes. Longstanding relationships and understandings can lead to meaningful resolutions and less expense.
Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB)
Rachael represents clients before the OLRB in the following areas:
- applications for union certification,
- unfair labour practice complaints,
- jurisdictional disputes,
- bad faith bargaining complaints,
- illegal strikes or lockouts,
- sale of business/related employer applications, and
- requests for reconsideration of board’s decisions.
Select Interest Arbitrations/Collective Agreements
- 2016 Police Services Board of Treaty Three Police Service and Public Service Alliance of Canada, 2016 CanlII 6258 (ONLA) Co-counsel in Interest Arbitration
- 2016 Chief Negotiator / Spokesperson for Nishnawbe Aski Police Services (NAPS) Collective Agreement for Officers Unit
- 2019 Dryden Police Association and Dryden Police Services Board Memorandum of Agreement (Chief Negotiator / Spokesperson)
- 2019 Dryden Senior Officers Association and Dryden Police Services Board Memorandum of Agreement