|Journal||Relations Industrielles / Industrial Relations|
A recent amendment to the Labour Relations Act in Ontario mandates the settlement of first-bargaining agreement disputes by arbitration where collective bargaining has been impeded by such things as the employer's refusal to recognize the bargaining authority of the union. First-agreement bargaining failure has been all too common in the province as illustrated by the experience of Eaton's. The new edict is an important departure from past policy, and it fits uneasily within the existing legal framework that advocates voluntarism. In analyzing the recent amendment, the questions addressed include: 1. how intervention can be justified when the employer has stayed within the law, 2. whether a first agreement will become a matter of right, and 3. whether compulsory arbitration can resolve what in effect are recognition disputes. Compulsory first-agreement arbitration cannot enable workers to exercise their rights under the Labour Relations Act because it does not create greater flexibility in the determination of bargaining units or reduce the structural disparity between employer and employees.