Labour Law – Ratification of a Collective Agreement

You hear on the news almost everyday that the union and employers have come to an agreement with respect to a collective agreement and that it now has to be ratified. Ever wonder exactly what “ratification” means?

Ratification of a collective agreement takes place at the end of the collective bargaining process; once the negotiators from the employer and the union have negotiated a tentative agreement each party must “ratify” the agreement before it become firm and binding. All members of the bargaining unit have the right to vote on the ratification of the agreement – the ratification vote. The collective agreement is considered ratified by the union if 50% plus 1 vote in favour of the terms of the tentative collective agreement. Likewise, the tentative agreement must be ratified by the employer. The nature of the employer’s ratification process will depend on legal status of the employer. For example, if the employer is a corporation then the agreement must be ratified by the Board of Directors in accordance with the corporate bylaws. Once both parties have ratified the agreement then it is firm and binding between the parties.