What is a Contract Ratification?

Some organizations, such as unions, have contracts (i.e. Collective Bargaining Agreements) that are negotiated by a Bargaining Committee from the organization, and then have to be put forth to the membership of that organization to be approved. The process of putting the contract to the members to approve is known as ratification. Usually, the contract does not become valid unless a majority (50% + 1) of the members vote to approve the terms of the contract.

The Bargaining Committee negotiates agreements with the employers of the employees who are represented by the union. Agreements can outline things like terms of employment and the rights of employees and employers. It usually also defines processes for addressing and resolving disputes between the employees and the employer. The ratification may be for a new contract, or it may be for amendments to a currently-operating contract.

Although the steps to get to the ratification (and the aftermath that follows), may be complex, the ratification election itself is quite straightforward. The standard process for these elections is that members read the contract (and any associated documents), and then vote either “Yes” or “No” on whether they approve of the terms outlined in the contract. If the majority votes in favour of the contract, the contract is ratified.

Possible Voting Methods for a Contract Ratification

Contract ratification referendum ballot
Sample contract ratification, with a PDF of the contract uploaded as an attachment on the ballot.

In ElectionBuddy, we’ve designed a voting method called the referendum voting method. The referendum voting method is ideal for any election where you are asking your voters to vote “Yes” or “No”, and a contract ratification is no exception.

The referendum voting method is a modification of the plurality voting method. In essence, it is just a plurality question that comes pre-set with only one vacancy, and “Yes” and “No” as the two options to choose between. Therefore, plurality could also be used, but the referendum is quicker!

Realistically, referendum (or a plurality set up the same way) is the only voting method that makes sense for a contract ratification.

Common Ballot Features Used in Contract Ratifications

Common features used when building a ballot for a Contract Ratification include:

  • The “Abstain” option, which allows for voters to abstain from voting on the Contract Ratification ballot question.
  • The Additional Question Information section, which will allow you to include text relevant to the Contract Ratification. This is also the area where you can upload a file, such as a PDF file of the contract to be ratified.
  • Asking for comments can be useful if looking to collect feedback or member questions/concerns about the contract.

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