When preparing to negotiate a new contract, the Guild forms a committee comprised of union members representing the various job categories covered by that contract. The negotiating committee is then submitted to the Guild’s Council for approval. Often the Guild will arrange an open house where members are invited to discuss pertinent matters with the committee. In other instances, smaller groups meet directly within the workplace.
The negotiating committee also consults with Guild staff members who have studied the strengths and weaknesses of a contract. Together, they formulate contract demands, which form the central changes the Guild seeks to make in the contract. These changes may involve simple improvements, clarification of key points, or an attempt to improve terms uncovered during a thorough review of the existing contract.
The negotiating committee compiles these demands and submits them to the Guild Council for approval. They are then distributed to members who are likely to work under this contract.
After members vote to approve and ratify the demands, the contract is presented to management and negotiations begin. Negotiations are conducted by the assembled committee, who work collaboratively with the Guild’s staff negotiators and representatives of management. The entire negotiation process typically lasts between one and three months, although there are instances where they have taken longer.