Overview: Part of the labor management process might include engaging in the collective bargaining process. If a union is declared the exclusive representative of a group of employees, a bargaining obligation arises, and the employer may no longer attempt to strike deals with individual employees. The employer and union must instead negotiate a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in good faith that will govern the terms and conditions of employment for the unionized employees. Once the CBA is in place, the parties must then bargain to change any of its terms.
The collective bargaining process requires that the parties, including those that qualify as joint employers, negotiate in good faith. This means that both parties must enter the bargaining process with a real intent to reach a fair written agreement and use their best efforts to achieve this goal.
Neither party can request or require the other party to agree to any terms that violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and/or federal or state antidiscrimination laws.
Trends: Under the NLRA, union and non-union employees cannot be disciplined for engaging in "protected concerted activity" for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection. Recently, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has been going after union and non-union employers for any workplace polices or practice that restrain employees from engaging in protected concerted activity. Employee complaints about work, supervisors, the employer, salaries, or other co-workers on a social networking site, may be deemed to be protected activity by the NLRB.
Author: Melissa Boyce, JD, Legal Editor
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This How To details the steps a prudent employer should take to prepare for collective negotiations with a union.
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.
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.
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HR guidance on the collective bargaining process.