Collective bargaining is a process in which union employees negotiate contracts with their employers to define employment terms, such as health care, pensions, pay, leave, benefits, job health and safety policies, hours, means of balancing family and work, and more. Employees collectively decide their bargaining priorities. Union employees determine who will represent them in bargaining sessions and vote to reject or accept the contract reached by the bargaining committees. An approved contract legally binds workers and management to the terms of the contract.
The employer and union are obligated to meet at reasonable intervals to negotiate in good faith about mandatory points after employees select a union as a bargaining representative. Some managerial decisions, including relocation, subcontracting, and other operational variations may not be compulsory topics of bargaining, but the employer must negotiate about the decision’s results on the employees.
The principle of collective bargaining is that employees have more strength or negotiating power with their employer by collaborating as a group than individually. The cooperative nature of the principle is essentially a democratic process because employees as a group select the topics for bargaining and vote on if they agree to a settlement.
It is frequently considered to be a fundamental legal human right in the United States providing employees and professionals the ability to plan changes and discover solutions with their employer. Also, agreeing collectively is profitable to the economy and society as a whole because it helps promote ownership that empowers its residents. Inherent rights include the following:
- Human rights: Although the United States Constitution enshrines the freedom of association, interpretation of this fundamental right by the Supreme Court has not extended it to collective bargaining. Congress had to pass the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the Railway Labor Act, and the Wagner Act to guarantee federal and private sector employees the right to legal collective bargaining. Nonetheless, these laws are not applicable to local or state public sector employees, leaving their rights to collective bargaining to their respective state governments.
- Economic prosperity and productivity: A civil service system must exist independently of the political process for a democracy to operate efficiently. Otherwise, only political supporters of those in power work in important government positions rather individuals serve based on their skill or merit.
- Economic productivity and prosperity: The rights of employees should not be considered inefficiencies. In fact, evidence indicates exactly the opposite. Democracies are intended to enable parties to negotiate and resolve matters, not to produce business economies that are more or less efficient. It is essential to highlight that collective bargaining can be beneficial for the economic landscapes of the nation and to the employer’s bottom line.
Apart from pay, a collective bargaining agreement with an employer can ensure whistle-blower protection, a fair performance rating system, proper training and mentoring, job flexibility, maintenance of quality control, career advancement opportunities, and the overall strength to hold the employer responsible.
As an industrial relations mechanism or tool, collective bargaining is a negotiation perspective relevant to the employment relationship. The union always has a common interest considering the discussions are in the interest of many employees. Mutual interests become a hallmark for both parties to the bargaining process when collective bargaining is not just for one employer.
Collective bargaining has been the impetus for employees’ capacity to gain respect and rights in the workplace throughout the last century and into this one. Individuals grouped together in unions in an effort to promote and win the passage of laws to ensure the legal status of negotiated collective bargaining agreements, now known as union contracts. Because acts of Congress provide the legal right to engage in collective bargaining, they could remove them and the agencies that are accountable for implementation.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.