As previous posts have discussed, union members have powerful tools available to them to address employment or labor law issues. Two of the most important tools are collective bargaining and striking. These fair labor practices were written into law in 1935, which is when the National Labor Relations Act was passed. In the past years, these laws have been adjusted and modified in order to create a better balance between unions and employers.
Collective bargaining is a negotiating process that takes place between an employer or management and union members as a means to settle a variety of labor law issues. This frequently includes wages, hours, safety rules and grievance procedures. It is termed collective bargaining because the two parties collectively negotiate with representatives for each side. By law, both sides are obligated to negotiate in good faith, which means they must be open and fair.
However, the negotiation process is not always easy. In fact, they can get heated and issues can go unresolved. If this occurs, they can be referred to mediation; however, this process is not binding like arbitration could be. In most cases, if a union is not satisfied by these results, it could result in a strike.
A strike typically occurs for two reasons. An economic strike occurs when there are held over issues regarding wages, hours and workers losing their jobs. It should be noted that when this type of strike occurs, a worker puts their job at risk. Employers are able to hire replacement workers during the strike, and these new workers could retain the job even after the strike is over.
A labor practices strike is a strike that is initiated to protest unfair labor practices by an employer. In this type of strike, employees are able to retain their status as well as their right to be reinstated when the strike is over. During this type of strike, temporary employees are hired but will be terminated at the end of the strike. It should be noted that is any strikers engage in any unfair practices during the strike, he or she could lose their right to being reinstated after the strike.
Union membership comes with powerful tools, but these tools come with some risks. It is important that union members understand their rights and options, and how they best can move forward when addressing labor law issues.
Source: Smallbusiness.chron.com, "Tactics Used by Labor Unions: Striking & Collective Bargaining," Thomas Metcalf, accessed June 11, 2017