Labour Relations

CUPE Local 973

CUPE Local 973 represents 160 employees in the Social Services Department who are in the Union, which includes full-time employees working in the Children’s Early Years, Ontario Works and Housing Services Divisions. This is the only union at the County of Wellington.

On July 31, 2023, Wellington County Council ratified a one year collective agreement with CUPE Local 973 effective January 1, 2023 through December 31, 2023.



Frequently Asked Questions

What is a collective agreement?

A collective agreement is a written contract between an employer and a group of employees represented by a union. This agreement governs the terms and conditions of employment and contains the rights, privileges and duties of the employer, the union and employees represented by the union. The County and CUPE 973 have had a collective agreement for many years.

What is collective bargaining?

Collective bargaining is a process in which a union and an employer negotiate a group agreement. In this process, the parties usually focus on such issues as wages, working conditions, grievance procedures and employee benefits.

What is good-faith bargaining?

Bargaining where two parties make every reasonable effort to reach a collective agreement. Good-faith bargaining does not preclude “hard bargaining” by either party.

What is the usual outcome of collective bargaining?

Collective bargaining usually results in reaching an agreement acceptable to the union and employer through negotiations at the bargaining table. If during negotiations, the employer and the union cannot agree on the terms of a collective agreement, either the employer or the union may ask the Minister of Labour to appoint a Conciliator who will then try to help the parties reach an agreement.

What is a Conciliation?
A union or an employer can ask the Ministry of Labour to appoint a Conciliator to help resolve their differences so that they can reach a collective agreement. During negotiations, parties must use the government’s conciliation services before they can be in a position to engage in a legal strike or lockout.
What if the employer and the union can't reach agreement in collection?
The Conciliator informs the Minister of Labour that a renewal of the Collective Agreement was unable to be achieved. At that point, the Minister typically issues a notice informing the union and the employer that he or she “does not consider it advisable to appoint a conciliation board” (cl. 21(b) of the Act). This notice is known as a “no board”.
What further negotiation assistance is available after a "no board" notice is issued?
If the parties have not reached a settlement in the conciliation stage, the Ministry offers to provide the services of a mediator who will confer with the parties and try to help a union and an employer reach a collective agreement. Mediation is discretionary and the service is only used if both parties are amenable to it.
Is Conciliation the same as Arbitration?
No, Conciliation should not be confused with Arbitration. Arbitration is a quasi-judicial process in which a third party assesses the parties’ positions and imposes a binding settlement.
What is a strike?
The Labour Relations Act, 1995 defines a strike as a cessation of work, a refusal to work or to continue to work by employees in combination and/or in accordance with a common understanding, or a slow-down or other concerted activity on the part of union members designed to restrict or limit output.
What is a lockout?
A lockout occurs when the employer closes a place of employment or suspends the work to be done by the employees in the bargaining unit.
When are the parties in a legal position to strike or lockout?

A strike or lockout is legal beginning on the 17th day after the minister sends the “no board” notice.

Must there be a strike vote before a strike can take place?
Employees cannot lawfully strike unless a strike vote by secret ballot among employees represented by the union is taken within 30 days or less before the collective agreement expires or at any time after the collective agreement expires and more than 50 per cent of those voting by secret ballot in favour of the strike. A strike vote must be by secret ballot and all people eligible to vote must have ample opportunity to do so. CUPE 973 has conducted a strike vote, which authorizes them to call a legal strike if negotiations (including conciliation) are unsuccessful.
What does it mean to ratify a union contract?

Once both the employer and the union have reached an agreement, the contract must go to the union members for vote. If the majority of those voting vote in favour of accepting the proposal, ratification of the terms for renewal of the Collective Agreement would occur at County Council.

(Content sourced Ontario Ministry of Labour and the University of Western Department of Communications and Public Affairs)


Human Resources
Susan Farrelly, Director of Human Resources

519.837.2600 x 2090  
Social Services
Luisa Artuso, Social Services Administrator
519.837.2600 x 3540 
Andrea Ravensdale, Communications Manager

519.837.2600 x 2320 

© 2023 County of Wellington, 74 Woolwich St. Guelph, Ontario N1H 3T9, T 519.837.2600, TF 1.800.663.0750, F 519.837.1909