Unions and Labour Relations

EMPR 200/3.0


Unions currently represent roughly thirty percent of the Canadian workforce, but the labour movement has a profound impact on all workplaces, both union and non-union. Studying unions involves a very different perspective from other disciplinary fields in employment relations, such as human resource management. For scholars and practitioners of labour relations, conflict is a natural feature of the employment relationship. While employees share some interests with employers, there are also diverging and conflicting interests between the parties. To study unions and labour relations, this course uses this pluralist perspective to analyze why workers form unions, how unions advocate for and represent employees, and what skills employers need to manage unionized workplaces.  

Course Topics

Module  Topic  
1  Introduction to Labour Relations  
2  The economic, social, and legal environment  
3  Employers and managers  
4  Unions and employees  
5  The roles of government  
6  Union organizing and certification  
7  The collective agreement  
8  Negotiations  
9  Strikes, lockouts, and contract dispute resolution  
10  Administration of the collective agreement  
11  Public sector labour relations  
12  The future of unions  

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, successful learners should be able to:  

  1. Describe the legal framework governing union certification procedures and union-management relations in Canada.   

  1. Critically assess the various management strategies related to unionized workplaces.   

  1. Discuss the role of the collective agreement in unionized workplaces and interpret the application of contract language.   

  1. Critically analyze unions and their impacts on employees and firms in Canada.  

  1. Critically analyze and communicate employment relations and workplace issues  

  1. Apply labour relations theories to resolve conflict and address problems.  


Winter 2024
Course Dates
Exam Dates (if applicable)
Delivery Mode


0% - Self-Assessment Quizzes (6)
20% - Current Event Discussion - Peer Discussion (2)
25% - Case Analysis - Individual Submission with Optional Group Work
25% - Simulation - Individual Submission with Group Work
30% - Proctored Final Exam
2% - Exit Tickets (2 out of 3) (BONUS)

**Evaluation subject to change**

Live Sessions

This course has required live sessions (e.g. webinars, synchronous activities). Please consult the Timeline in the first week of class.

Proctored Exams

If a student is enrolled in ONLY online courses (section 700), they may choose either of the following options to write the exam:

  • Write the final exam online: you will write in onQ with Examity proctoring. A $100 online exam fee will be charged to your SOLUS account.  
  • Write the final exam in-person: you will write on Queen’s campus in Kingston. You will not be charged an extra fee to write on campus. 

If a student is enrolled in ANY in-person courses (section 001, 002, etc), you MUST write all your final exams in-person on Queen’s campus, including for an online course. You may not choose to write your exams online. 

Textbook and Materials

ASO reserves the right to make changes to the required material list as received by the instructor before the course starts. Please refer to the Campus Bookstore website at http://www.campusbookstore.com/Textbooks/Search-Engine to obtain the most up-to-date list of required materials for this course before purchasing them.

  • Suffield, Larry and Gannon, Gary. (2020). Labour Relations, 5th Edition. Pearson Canada Inc. toronto.

Time Commitment

Students can expect to spend approximately 10 hours a week (120 hours per term) in study, listening and online activity for this course.


 “It was a lot of information to cover but I thought that it was formatted in way that made it easier to grasp. I appreciated the real-life examples and video links.”

“Great course....Podcasts, blogs, forums were well organized/informative. [The] simulation exercise was one of the most creative assignments I’ve completed at Queen’s yet. More courses should have such interactive learning experiences.”