The purpose of this handbook is to give newly appointed members of Negotiating Committees (or whoever is given the responsibility for bargaining) an outline of their duties, where they can turn for advice, and the names of CUPE Education Department courses that will help them to be more effective committee members. Bargaining is the most important activity undertaken by any union. Unions bargain rather than just submitting a “wish” list of contract improvements that employers automatically accept. We bargain because the interests of employers and workers are opposed. Public sector employers want a free hand to provide public services as cheaply as possible. Workers want decent, safe working conditions and a rising standard of living. Because there is conflict, unions must force employers to pay more than they otherwise would, to give employees more say over promotions, more job security, etc. Even in a time of cutbacks, wage freezes and contracting-out, unionized workers do better than those with no protection and if we work together, we can minimize the assault on our living standards and job security. The difference between bargaining and begging is the power to effect change. Unionized workers who act together and support one another have more power than individual workers who can’t even complain about working conditions, harassment by supervisors, racism, or being passed over for promotions for fear of being labelled a troublemaker.