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Collective Bargaining Process: Federal

Author: Joseph P. Paranac, LeClairRyan

Summary

  • Collective bargaining is a good-faith effort by an employer and union to reach an agreement setting forth wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment for all employees in that union. See Purpose of Collective Bargaining.
  • The collective bargaining process goes through various stages, including the duty to exchange information and meet and confer. If the parties to a collective bargaining agreement are unable to reach an agreement, then they have reached an impasse. See Stages of the Bargaining Process.
  • There are three subject areas of collective bargaining: mandatory, permissive and illegal. See Types of Bargaining Subjects.
  • Good-faith bargaining is evaluated based on a party's total overall conduct during the negotiations, both at and away from the bargaining table. Certain employer conduct is automatically defined as a refusal to bargain, such as unilaterally changing work conditions without first bargaining with the union, refusing to discuss mandatory subjects of bargaining and insisting on a nonmandatory subject of bargaining as a condition to reaching an agreement. See The Good-Faith Bargaining Requirement.
  • When a collective bargaining agreement expires, most of the terms of the contract survive the expiration of the agreement. An employer may not make unilateral changes without first bargaining with the union. See Expiration/Termination of a Collective Bargaining Agreement.