For many larger companies, collective bargaining represents an integral part of the employer-employee relationship – but exactly what is it? In simplest terms, it’s the process in which employees band together to negotiate job details such as wages and working conditions with the business that’s employing them. The idea here is that when employees join with one another, they have strength in numbers and therefore, more negotiating leverage to receive any desired employment terms.
Employees don’t typically do the negotiating themselves, however. In most cases, a labor union negotiates on their behalf with the representatives of their employer. The goal is to reach a bargaining agreement or contract that’s suitable for both sides. When employees collectively bargain, there are usually a number of goals in mind, including those that are protective in nature:
Wages: Unions work to achieve higher pay for their members.
Hours: Unions work to ensure that employment hours are suitable to the liking of their members. Additionally, they work to ensure that employees receive extra pay for any overtime hours their members work.
Safety: Unions negotiate with the employer to ensure that workplace conditions are safe enough for the employees to work in. They also work to ensure that proper training protocols are in place.
Grievances: Unions and employers work to ensure that proper grievance protocols are in place. Should an employee believe the terms of the bargaining contract are violated – how do they address it with the employer and resolve the issue?
Job Statuses: Unions and employers work to ensure that employee job statuses can’t be arbitrarily terminated without justification.
Other Benefits: Paid time off, sick leave, maternity leave, health coverage, retirement benefits, and other issues may also be on the negotiating table.
Collective Bargaining Protects Both Sides
How does collective bargaining protect employees? An employee workforce that isn’t collectively united together may not be seen as standing on equal footing in terms of the employer-employee relationship. By combining into one, the result allows employees to better represent their goals – especially in terms of the aforementioned issues. They can protect their rights, their job statuses, and work with better peace-of-mind.
How does collective bargaining protect employers? A negotiated collective bargaining agreement that is seen as beneficial to both sides has a number of benefits for the employer: The employer can rest assured that workplace morale is kept up. Additionally, the employer can take into consideration the concerns of their workforce – especially in regards to providing a safe work environment; when addressed, this can improve workforce standards and ensure that any onsite accidents are kept to a minimum.
Need help handling the collective bargaining process with your employees’ union? Contact the experts at Strom Engineering today.
To learn more about employer-union contract negotiations, read our other blog post, How to Prepare for Union Contract Negotiations.