Thursday, May 14, 2009

Collective Bargaining

8 Items from a Labor Glossary #2


Collective bargaining is the process by which a group of workers, usually represented by a labor union, organize to negotiate with their employer or a group of employers. The types of items negotiated include, but are not limited to:
  • Wages
  • Hours
  • Working Conditions
  • Benefits
  • Workplace Rules
The end result and goal of collective bargaining is a binding labor contract.

Three Characteristics of Collective Bargaining in the United States
  1. Industrial relations in the United States are highly decentralized. There are numerous companies and labor unions in virtually every corner of the country. This is considered one of the strengths of our system. Rather than impose labor regulations from on high, companies and unions have an idea of what would work best in their little piece of the country and can negotiate as they see fit.
  2. Exclusive jurisdiction is the idea that a union serves as the only representative for all employees in the specified labor group. This prevents splintering of the workforce and allows for a single labor contract as a result of bargaining.
  3. The vital concerns of both employees and employers are not readily addressed by labor law. The law provides a framework for organizing, bargaining and conflict resolution, but leaves the specific terms of the contract to the interested parties.
It's a Good Thing

For workers, collective bargaining (and unionization as a whole) is, as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a fundamental right for all. It is the tool that allows for a group of workers to stand up for their rights. It is the best tool for preventing abuse by employers. It is the tool through which labor unions were able to give us the eight hour work day, the weekend, and paid vacation. Best of all, collective bargaining is a process that is not tilted to either side of the labor divide. It is a method for workers and employers to come together and define responsibilities. It is a method for them to come together and work for the common good of the business.

Further Reading
Previous Items in This Series: An Introduction, Card Check

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