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Labor and Labor Practices

Collective Bargaining Agreements

The NLRB oversees the regulation of labor negotiations. Typical subjects of negotiation are wages and benefits, methods and timing of payment, pensions, safety, work rules, employee grievance procedures, seniority, and layoffs. The NLRB classifies subjects of bargaining as mandatory, permissible, or illegal. The subjects just mentioned are classified as mandatory; this means that one side may not refuse to negotiate them if the other side wishes to do so. Refusal to negotiate a mandatory subject is an unfair labor practice. One form of "refusal to negotiate" is one party's changing the terms of employment without bargaining. This is allowed only when an agreement has expired and an impasse in negotiations has been reached. The NLRB may order a party to cease its refusal to negotiate and may order reinstatement of employees and pay adjustments as it sees fit.

Permissible subjects are those that lay outside the direct terms of the employment of the workers, such as the opening of another plant by the employer or community activities by the union or the employer. Either side may refuse to negotiate these items if it wishes to do so. Illegal subjects are those which involve activity illegal under labor law, such as the closed shop, or activities illegal under other laws;, such as age or race discrimination in hiring.

Both sides must bargain in good faith. This means that unreasonable demands may not be made, that no prior conditions to bargaining may be set, and that unresolvable issues may be shelved while less intractable problems are dealt with. Further, each side may ask the other to provide certain types of information.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationGreat American Court CasesLabor and Labor Practices - Introduction, The Wagner Act, The Taft-hartley Act, An Overview Of Labor Law