A significant portion of a union’s power comes through collective bargaining. Used effectively, collective bargaining should help employees earn higher wages, receive decent benefits, and improve workplace safety.
Workers are not the only ones who can benefit from a collective bargaining agreement. Because the agreement is a contract between the employer and employees, it can help to safeguard and guarantee the interests of both. Here are five ways that collective bargaining can benefit union workers.
1. Many voices combine to create a larger voice
If each worker had to negotiate the terms of their employment individually, there would be serious inequities in the workplace. Often, workers are put in a “take it or leave it” position when it comes to employment. Collective bargaining enables workers to come together in a large group. This can help create one large voice that can effectively negotiate for a more favorable outcome.
2. Collective bargaining can improve quality of life
Higher pay and a more comprehensive benefits package can greatly improve a worker’s quality of life. Even if a collective bargaining agreement does not result in a wage increase or better benefits, an improvement in working conditions can make workers’ lives less stressful.
3. Expectations are clearly outlined
Most non-union workers are employed “at-will.” This means an employer may terminate an employee at any time, for any reason, or no reason at all. Collective bargaining can outline expectations, including establishing a termination procedure “for cause” instead of “at-will.” This helps provide workers with a strong sense of job security.
4. It encourages cooperation
Most jurisdictions require workers and employers to negotiate in good faith. This means both sides must find a path forward that can help benefit both. For workers, this may mean a fair wage. For employers, it may mean consistent productivity. Cooperation can help ease tensions between workers and employers.
5. There is room for change
While a collective bargaining agreement is a binding contract, it is not put in place for a lifetime. If you didn’t get the deal you wanted, you could renegotiate the terms when your collective bargaining agreement expires. Depending on the language of your agreement, you may even be able to modify some terms before the agreement expires.
Collective bargaining makes workers stronger
Collective bargaining helps to level the playing field between workers and employers. It can even improve relations between labor organizations and businesses.