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Teaching Tool – What Do You Bring to the Bargaining Table?

By: Renee Allen

Renee Allen

Education Collaborator

Renee Allen is a multi-hyphenate Jamaican-born, Toronto-based, writer-educator, with a passion for working with children and youth. She is deeply committed to work that interrogates and addresses interlocking systems of oppression. Her writing appears in Zora, THIS magazine and PREE. Renee is also a recent graduate of the Masters of Teaching program at the University of Toronto, with a book collection that keeps outgrowing her bookcase.

Teaching Tool: What Do You Bring To The Bargaining TableDownload

Subject Area: Interdisciplinary 

Grade Level: 7–12 

Suggested Time: 120 minutes 

Teaching Tool Overview 

This guide supports educators in facilitating a union representative’s visit to your class. Since unions often work behind closed doors to advocate for employee rights, students could benefit from the firsthand account of a local union representative. The purpose of the union representative’s visit is to share perspectives on the collective bargaining process and the Trade Unions Act. As a follow-up activity, students will create a mock union representing the class, where they will have to go to the bargaining table to negotiate fair contracts.

Potential Union Representatives 

There is a range of unions for both the public and private sectors across Canada. Though this is not an exhaustive list, it is a starting point to support you in identifying and contacting a union representative: 

You may also consider co-constructing a list of professions your students are interested in and then identifying the unions they represent. For example: 

Union Terminology Flashcards 

Before the union representative’s visit, it might be helpful to review key terminology with students. You might start by asking students to identify words/phrases they’re familiar with and reveal flashcards or collaborate to create definitions of the following:  

You might also explore the following resources provided by unions:

Guiding Questions for Visit 

When the union representative visits, students should identify a few questions they’d like their guest to answer. The following can serve as a starting point for questions that students can use/build upon: 

Potential Post-Visit Activity 

Based on the union representative’s perspectives, students could form a union that represents the class, with the educator acting as the employer. The class must select union representatives who will take part in negotiating a collective agreement. The class must work together to support the union representatives in identifying key issues they’d like to advocate for in the classroom and how they’d like the employer (teacher) to address them. Potential issues could include: 

Teaching Tool: What Do You Bring To The Bargaining TableDownload