Labour Relations

About Collective Bargaining

Canadian unionized employers, including universities, have collective agreements with their employees and representing unions that outline their respective terms and conditions of employment.  Engaging in collective bargaining to renew collective agreements is a routine part of the life cycle of collective agreements.

Current, innovative, and competitive terms and conditions of employment for our employees are critical to recruiting and retaining the best people, contributing to an optimal employee experience at Lakehead, and supporting the achievement of our strategic, academic and research goals.

We are committed to collaboratively and constructively bargaining with our union partners to synergistically meet both employee and operational needs.

Bargaining units

Unionized employees of the university are included in one of several bargaining units, depending on the nature of their role. Each of these bargaining units have unique terms and conditions of employment in their respective collective agreements as well as engage in collective bargaining with the university to renew these terms and conditions of employment upon expiry of the current term of their collective agreement.

Lakehead University’s unionized employees are organized into seven (7) bargaining units: 

  • Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE), Local 96
  • Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Local 3905
  • International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), Local 865
  • Lakehead University Faculty Association (LUFA)
  • Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), Local 716
  • UNIFOR, Local 229
  • United Steelworkers (USW), Local 5294
For more information about collective bargaining, please visit:

Collective Bargaining Agreements

Resources for Staff

Collective Bargaining Updates

Contact Human Resources


What is collective bargaining?

Collective bargaining is the negotiation process by which the parties to a collective agreement renew the terms of an existing collective agreement or negotiate a new collective agreement when the union is first certified to represent a new bargaining unit.

Under the Ontario Labour Relations Act, parties of a collective agreement are required to meet and bargain in good faith with a view to making every reasonable effort to concluding a collective agreement.

What is a collective agreement?

A collective agreement is a written contract between an employer and a union providing agreed terms and conditions of employment that apply to all members of the bargaining unit. Each collective agreement is active for an agreed to duration.

How does collective bargaining commence?

Collective bargaining begins upon the pending expiry of an active collective agreement, or in the case of a first collective agreement, upon the receipt of notice to bargain. To commence the collective bargaining process, at least one party must give formal notice to the other party of their intention to bargain. The parties then schedule dates to exchange and negotiate proposals, with the goal of achieving a mutually advantageous agreement.

During the bargaining process, can the parties seek outside assistance in reaching agreement?

Yes. If the parties are unable to agree on the terms of a collective agreement, either party (or both) may seek the services of a mediator or initiate the conciliation process by asking the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development to appoint a conciliator to meet with the union and the employer to attempt to conclude a collective agreement.