Is the union screwing me in advance?
August 6, 2012 5:49 PM   Subscribe

I'm applying for a union (CUPE) job that I am almost 100% sure I am going to be offered. I think I am worth more than the union mandated payscale. What extras can I request/negotiate?

The union specifies that new employees with my job title receive compensation within a very specific band. I intend to insist on the top of that band, but still think I am worth more.

My (mistaken?) understanding is that the employers can't offer me a salary above that range, so what else can I ask for to sweeten the deal?

I am thinking of asking for 4 weeks vacation instead of two and asking for the benefits to become available after two months instead of the usual six, but I don't know if these are things that are mandated by the union as well. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If by CUPE you mean Canadian Union of Public Employees, I would guess that you are talking about a job that is covered under a Collective Agreement in a Canadian province. If that is the case, usually there is essentially nothing that can be negotiated as it is all covered in the Collective Agreement. Some Collective Agreement will include a clause about the possibility of a Market Adjustment - but that is very rare. Usually, when jobs are covered under a Collective Agreement, there is essentially nothing (other than possibly where you fall on the salary scale when hired) that can be negotiated.
posted by aroberge at 6:10 PM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Btw, nothing is "mandated by the Union". It is the result of past negotiations between the employer and the union. If you do get a job offer, make sure to ask for a copy of the Collective Agreement that will spell out everything.
posted by aroberge at 6:12 PM on August 6, 2012 [6 favorites]

Unless unions in Canada are very different than those in the US, then the entire package has already been negotiated, so, no you can't ask for more than the contract allows. If you don't know what is included in the contract, then you should do a bare minimum of investigation and find out. This isn't the union screwing you in advance, and it's not the union mandating anything (oh, if only), it's the union bringing the power of collective bargaining to get higher wages and better benefits for everyone. If you can do better on your own, then you should get a non-union job and negotiate your contract without assistance.
posted by Mavri at 6:16 PM on August 6, 2012 [11 favorites]

Former Canadian HR manager (non-union, though). I agree with the above statements. There is nothing you can get that is not outlined in the collective agreement. Perhaps union positions are not for you?
posted by saradarlin at 6:29 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Union executive with a local with CUPE here; everything is covered by the CA. If you don't have a copy of the current CA (like if it was recently negotiated then all past CA's I have tried to find have all been available easily. There is nothing to negotiate and attempting to negotiate outside the CA will make you look very unprofessional.
posted by saucysault at 7:49 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

You are right, the best you can hope for your salary is to come in at the maximum step for your job classification. Better have a rock solid business case for that, though, because that step represents years of service for your typical new employee. Any other possible benefit will be laid out in the Collective Agreement, which I assume you have gone over with a fine-toothed comb by now to see what you can ask for.
posted by Yowser at 8:06 PM on August 6, 2012

I'm not sure that absolutely everything is covered under the CA. While vacation is certainly off the table, there is nothing stopping you from asking for any of the following:

- Training over and above what is included in the CA. Will they cover conferences? How about some additional courses or materials? While some of this might be mentioned in the CA, there is probably some wiggle room. Especially for a new hire.

- Equipment. Maybe a new laptop/desktop depending on your preference? What about a mobile phone? Will the company cover the costs of a mobile plan? It may be included in the CA if your job involves any on-call hours, but you might want to check.

- Home internet services subsidy. Again, depending on the nature of your job, you might be able to negotiate a fixed yearly about to help subsidize your home internet services.

I'm not an HR rep, nor a member of a union (any longer, thankfully -- I believe in them but the CUPEs of this world are out of control IMO) but I noticed a lot of a little concessions being made all the time for both high-performing and not high-performing union employees.
posted by purephase at 5:44 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

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