What is collective bargaining?

In some New York industries, employees are able to join a union. Whether an individual has been part of a labor union before or not, it is important to note that being part of a union affords members certain employee benefits. These benefits do not only profit an employee but also promote a positive employment relationship between an employer and an employee. One unique benefit labor union membership can provide is collective bargaining.

What is collective bargaining? This is a relation mechanism or tool that is designed to work within the negotiation process. This tool is applicable to issues or areas concerning employment relationships.

When collective bargaining takes place, the union has the collective interests in mind since the negotiation process is occurring for the benefit of all or most of the employees. However, when collective bargaining is not just for one employer but for several, the collective interests are at issue for both parties to the bargaining process.

The Alternative Dispute Resolution or ADR process is used in collective bargaining. ADR includes arbitration, mediation, negotiated rulemaking, neutral fact-finding, and mini-trials. The goal of ADR, with the exception of arbitration, is to provide the parties involved with a forum to work towards a voluntary, consensual agreement. Once an agreement is reached, a collective bargaining agreement can be drafted. This document memorializes the terms and conditions of the agreement. This often includes that rate of pay, hours of work, and other working conditions of the employees.

While being part of a union can be a positive experience, the collative bargaining process can encounter pitfalls and obstacles. Thus, it is important that employees understand how to navigate this labor law issue and how to protect their rights along the way.

Source: US Department of Labor, "Collective Bargaining," accessed April 16, 2017

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