How Collective Bargaining Agreements Work

By hrlineup | 02.01.2020

Collective bargaining is basically a process of negotiation between an employer and a group of employees that is aimed at coming to an agreement on matters pertaining to working salaries, working conditions, benefits and other aspects that touch on employee rights and compensation.

According to the National Labor Relations Act, employees have a right to organize, form, join or even assist a labor organization for collective bargaining agreements covering purposes. Employers are forbidden from interfering, restraining or coercing their employees against exercising this right. Employees should also be allowed to freely work together to improve the terms and conditions of their employment. Labor organizations are also not allowed to coerce or restrain employees in exercising these rights.

Employer conduct that may violate the law

  • Employers should not threaten employees with job loss if they join or vote for a union.
  • Employers should not threaten to close the business if employees choose a union to represent them.
  • Employers should not inquire about union activities or understandings in a way that may seem to interfere with, coerce or restrain employees in exercising their rights.
  • Employers should not offer benefits to employees as a way of discouraging then from seeking union support.
  • Employers should not punish employees in any way for getting engaged in a union, for instance, by assigning them more tasks or difficult tasks, laying them off or even terminating their contracts.

How should labor unions conduct themselves?

  • Unions shouldn’t threaten employees that they might lose their jobs if they fail to join an organization.
  • They shouldn’t seek discharge or punishment of employees who fail to join them.
  • They shouldn’t refuse to address a grievance just because an employee has criticized a union official or he is not a member of the union.
  • Unions shouldn’t fine employees who resign from the union.
  • They should strictly engage in matters related to employment terms and conditions.

How do collective bargaining agreements work?

The agreements start with employees choosing a union they want to join as a bargaining representative. After that, the employer will be required to meet with the union enough times to bargain in good faith about issues that employees are facing, including wages, time, vacation, safety practices, insurance and other mandatory issues. There are other issues that are not mandatory that the union may address including relocation, subcontracting and operational changes.

The two parties must bargain collectively as it will be unfair if they don’t, though it is not a must for them to reach an agreement or make concessions. If after several meetings no agreement has been reached then the employer may declare a stalemate and then the last offer presented to the union will be implemented.

Collective bargaining is a great way to resolve issues that employees face while working and are not addressed properly by their employers. As long as they are not violating employer rights, union members through such agreements are able to negotiate for better benefits, wages and working conditions. Unions can easily and quickly negotiate agreements with employers to ensure that all employer obligations are met for the good of the business and the society at large.