What Is "Collective Bargaining"?
A description of collective bargaining
Collective bargaining is a term used to describe negotiations occurring between an employer and its employees, usually through a representative of the employees (i.e., a labor union). Collective bargaining generally results in a formal contract between the employee and employees (or union) specifying the terms and conditions of employment (e.g., wages, hours of work, disciplinary procedures). U.S. labor law determines the issues that can be collectively bargained. Wages, hours, and working conditions are considered “mandatory bargaining issues,” meaning the employer cannot refuse to negotiate with its employees over these issues. Other issues, such as whether to implement new technology, a decision to close or sell a location, whether to provide benefits to retirees, are not mandatory but may be “permissive,” meaning that the employer can, if it wishes to do so, negotiate with the union over these issues. Finally, unions and the employer are prohibited by law from negotiating over some issues.
In our case, mandatory bargaining issues include wages, fringe benefits, hours and conditions of employment (e.g., discipline procedures, grievance procedure). Note that some of these are currently addressed in the Faculty and Academic Staff Handbooks so it may be a matter of refining processes and bringing them into the contract. By law, we are prohibited from negotiating anything that would result in the diminution of faculty tenure rights, shared governance rights, academic staff rights of appointment, and academic freedom.