HR Support on Collective Bargaining Agreements

Editor's Note: Union employers must bargain in good faith.

Melissa BoyceOverview: The labor management process may include collective bargaining. Collective bargaining is a good-faith effort by an employer and a union to engage in a give and take process to achieve a freely negotiated written contract - also known as a collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

A good faith effort typically includes:

  • Meeting and conferring at reasonable times in order to negotiate the agreement;
  • Furnishing requested information (i.e. the union will typically demand certain information from the employer in order to properly prepare for negotiations and the employer should provide all information relevant to a union in its role as a bargaining representative on an ongoing basis); and
  • Discussing any mandatory subjects of bargaining (wages, hours, benefits, workplace rules and discipline or other terms and conditions of employment).

CBAs can provide employees with greater rights then those minimally required by state or federal law. Unions frequently fight to secure rights that are not typically covered under state or federal law - such as seniority criteria, grievance/arbitration procedures, minimum leave of benefits and retirement type of benefits.

During the process of securing a CBA, employers must be careful not to engage in any unfair labor practices, such as refusing to sign the CBA or bargaining exclusively by mail or through the exchange of written proposals only. Generally, once a CBA is signed, an employer cannot make unilateral changes to its terms and conditions. If one party ignores its obligations under the CBA, the other party can request or compel arbitration of the dispute.

Trends: Some CBAs have provisions that address paid leave, provide for leave beyond the 12 weeks of FMLA, address the availability of light duty assignments, or discuss the accrual and use of, or bidding for, paid time off.

Employers with partially or fully unionized workforces should make sure that employees leaves under the FMLA, ADA, state law or employer policy comply with the provisions of any applicable CBA and that the most favorable protections are applied.

Author: Melissa Boyce, JD, Legal Editor

Latest items in Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs)

  • Bargaining Impasse Declared after Employer Engages in Good-Faith Attempts to Reach Settlement on Terms

    Date:
    12 August 2015
    Type:
    Law Reports

    In TruServ Corp. v. NLRB, 254 F.3d 1105, (D.C. Cir. 2001), the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit addressed whether 1) a genuine bargaining impasse had been reached prior to the employer's implementing terms and conditions of employment, and 2) whether the employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by disciplining unit employees pursuant to unilaterally implemented work rules and refusing to process employee grievances.

  • Employer Violates NLRA by Unilaterally Changing Conditions of Employment Under Negotiation

    Date:
    12 August 2015
    Type:
    Law Reports

    In NLRB v. Katz, 369 U.S. 736 (1962), the Supreme Court addressed whether an employer had violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) duty to bargain collectively by instituting changes regarding matters that were the subjects of mandatory bargaining without first consulting the union.

  • Date:
    11 March 2015
    Type:
    Legal Timetable

  • Supreme Court Sides With Employer in ERISA Dispute

    Date:
    27 January 2015
    Type:
    News

    The Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that a group of retired employees are not necessarily entitled to permanent, contribution-free health care benefits. Writing for the Court, Justice Clarence Thomas said, "Employers or other plan sponsors are generally free under ERISA at any time to adopt, modify or terminate welfare plans."

  • Solicitation and Distribution Policy

    Type:
    Policies and Documents

    An employer may use this Solicitation and Distribution Policy to manage the solicitation and distribution of information among employees and outsiders, usually in a non-union environment, and to establish guidelines for compliance with the National Labor Relations Act in a completely non-discriminatory manner.

  • Email Policy for Collective Bargaining Agreement

    Type:
    Policies and Documents

    An employer may use this policy to set the parameters for use of communication resources, particularly electronic resources, such as email, internet services and social media. The Email Policy for Collective Bargaining Agreement should be used in conjunction with an Acknowledgement and Consent Form.

  • Prepare for Collective Negotiations With a Union: New How To Added

    Date:
    02 June 2014
    Type:
    Editor's Choice

    New guidance is available to help an employer prepare for the collective bargaining process with a union.

  • How to Prepare for Collective Negotiations With a Union

    Type:
    How To

    This How To details the steps a prudent employer should take to prepare for collective negotiations with a union.

  • Employers Need Not Pay Employees for Changing In and Out of Protective Gear, Supreme Court Rules

    Date:
    27 January 2014
    Type:
    News

    Items such as flame-retardant jackets, hardhats and work gloves that are both designed and used to cover the body and are commonly regarded as articles of dress count as clothes under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Supreme Court ruled in Sandifer v. United States Steel Corp.

  • Employment Law Manual Updated to Reflect Supreme Court FLSA Ruling

    Date:
    27 January 2014
    Type:
    Editor's Choice

    The Hours Worked > Clothes-Changing or Washing Under a CBA section of the Employment Law Manual now includes information about what constitutes "clothes" under Section 203(o) of the Fair Labor Standards Act.