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Collective Bargaining


What is collective bargaining?

Collective bargaining is the process of workers, as a group, securing their terms and conditions of employment through negotiation of a legal, binding compact defining the terms and conditions of employment for both employee and employer.

What is the final result of collective bargaining?

In collective bargaining, a group of employees seeks to define their terms and conditions of employment in a legal, binding contract. Dependent upon what the employees want and can negotiate with the employer, a contract can contain such provisions as hours of work, wage and salary definitions, safety and work rules, definition of benefits, and orderly procedures for resolution of differences.

In most states, workers without an employment contract are "at will" employees. They serve at the whim and will of the employer.

Why is collective bargaining beneficial?

The following points identify the importance of collective bargaining to workers:

• By organizing and acting in concert, workers achieve bargaining parity with their employers.
• Through collective bargaining wages are

In most states, workers without an employment contract are "at will" employees. They serve at the whim and will of the employer...

taken out of competition and employment conditions are standardized.
• Collectively bargained wages and conditions, which reflect the relative strength of the contending parties, are almost always more beneficial to workers than what an employer would offer absent a union.
• The source of workers' collective bargaining power is their credible threat of collective action against an employer.
• Without a union, employers are free to act as dictators in the workplace and to set and change conditions for employees as management alone chooses to. With a union, democracy is introduced into the workplace and employees achieve more control over their work lives (where they spend a majority of their waking hours).
• Without a union, employees can only expect limited statutory rights, i.e., minimal standards established by law. Application of these standards  may be lax because employees are unaware of their rights. With a union, employees can win a wide range of benefits that otherwise could be withheld by the employer, including vacations, sick pay, grievance procedures, etc. With a union, employees become workplace advocates for themselves.
• When workers win better wages and benefits through collective bargaining, they also need a written contract that is binding and enforceable in a court of law; this clearly establishes that the employer's formerly unlimited discretion is formally constrained by the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.

Does Collective Bargaining have a demonstrated effect on wages and benefits?

Most definitely. Surveys by the Government's Bureau of Labor Statistics point out that on average, Union workers enjoy a 36.4% greater wage and benefit package as compared to unorganized workers. In wages alone, Union workers enjoy, on average, a 21.4 % better paycheck than unorganized workers.1

When workers act together, workers win. When workers act individually, the employer wins.

1. As published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in their year-end report, dated March, 1997, Union workers enjoyed an average wage and benefits package of $23.48 per hour, compared to $17.21 for non-union workers. In benefits alone, Union workers enjoyed an average 8% better benefits package than unorganized workers. For wages, the average hourly rate for Union workers was $15.15; for non-union workers, the rate was $12.48 Source - U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Annual Survey, March, 1997


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