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Collective Bargaining - National Labor Relations Act, Law Of Collective Bargaining

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The process through which a LABOR UNION and an employer negotiate the scope of the employment relationship.

A collective bargaining agreement is the ultimate goal of the collective bargaining process. Typically, the agreement establishes wages, hours, promotions, benefits, and other employment terms as well as procedures for handling disputes arising under it. Because the collective bargaining agreement cannot address every workplace issue that might arise in the future, unwritten customs and past practices, external law, and informal agreements are as important to the collective bargaining agreement as the written instrument itself.

Collective bargaining allows workers and employers to reach voluntary agreement on a wide range of topics. Even so, it is limited to some extent by federal and state laws. A collective bargaining agreement cannot accomplish by contract what the law prohibits. For example, a union and an employer cannot use collective bargaining to deprive employees of rights they would otherwise enjoy under laws such as the CIVIL RIGHTS statutes (Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., 415 U.S. 36, 94 S. Ct. 1011, 39 L. Ed. 2d 147 [1974]). Collective bargaining also cannot be used to waive rights or obligations that laws impose on either party. For example, an employer may not use collective bargaining to reduce the level of safety standards it must follow under the OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT (29 U.S.C.A. §§ 651 et seq.). Furthermore, the collective bargaining agreement is not purely voluntary. One party's failure to reach agreement entitles the other to resort to certain legal tactics, such as strikes and lockouts, to apply economic pressure and force agreement. Moreover, unlike commercial contracts governed by state law, the collective bargaining agreement is governed almost exclusively by federal LABOR LAW, which determines the issues that require collective bargaining, the timing and method of bargaining, and the consequences of a failure to bargain properly or to adhere to a collective bargaining agreement.

National Basketball Association (NBA) Commissioner David Stern (right) shakes hands with NBA Players Association Executive Director Billy Hunter during a January 1999 press conference in which a collective bargaining agreement between the league and players was announced.
AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS

FURTHER READINGS

Aidt, Toke, and Zafiris Tzannatos. 2002. Economic Effects in a Global Environment. Washington, D.C.: World Book.

Bagchi, Aditi. 2003. "Unions and the Duty of Good Faith in Employment Contracts." Yale Law Journal 112 (May).

CROSS-REFERENCES

Employment Law; Good Faith; Picketing.

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over 3 years ago

nobody needs unions that way we can all work for 7.50 PER HR WOW what a great idea.