What is Collective Bargaining?
When and if the union becomes your employees’ representative a day is set for management and labor to meet and negotiate a labor agreement. This agreement will contain specific provisions covering wages, hours, and working conditions.
For the purpose of [this act] to bargain collectively is the performance of the mutual obligation of the employer and the representative of the employees to meet at reasonable times and confer in good faith wt respect to wages , hours, and terms and conditions of employment or the negotiation of an agreement or any question arising there under, and the executive of written contract incorporating any agreement reached if requested by either party, but such obligation does not compel either party to agree to a proposal or require the making of concession.
In plain language this means that both management and labor are required by law to negotiate wage, hours, and terms and conditions of employment in good faith. In a moment we will see that the specific terms that are negotiable (since wages, hours and conditions of employment are too board to be useful in practice) have been clarified by a series of court decisions.
What is good faith?
Both parties are making every reasonable effort to arrive to agreement; proposals are being matched with counterproposals.
Good faith bargaining is the cornerstone of effective labor management relations. It means that both parties communicate an negotiate that they match proposals with counterproposals and that both make every reasonable effort to arrive at an agreement. It does not mean that one party compels another to agree for a proposal. Nor does it require that either party make any specific concessions (although as practical mater, some may be necessary).
When is bargaining not in good faith? As interpreted by the NLRB and the courts a violation of the requirement for good faith bargaining may include the following:
Surface bargaining: Going through the motions of bargaining without any real intention of completing a formal agreement
Inadequate concession: Unwillingness to comprise eve though no one is required to make a concession.
Inadequate proposals and demands: The NLRB considers the advancement of proposals to be a positive factor in determining overall good faith.
Dilatory tactics: The law requires that the parties meet and confer at reasonable times and intervals. Obviously refusal to meet with the union does not satisfy the positive duty imposed on the employer
Imposing conditions that are onerous or unreasonable to indicate bad faith.
Making unilateral changes in conditions: This is a strong indication that the employer is not bargaining with the required intent of reaching an agreement
Bypassing the representative: The duty of management is to bargain in good faith involves at a minimum recognition that the union representative is the one with whom the employer must deal Inc conducting negotiations.
Committing unfair labor practices during negotiations: Such practices may reflect poorly upon the good faith of the guilty party.
Withholding information: An employer must supply the union with information upon request to enable it to understand and intelligently discuss the issues raised in bargaining.
Ignoring bargaining items: Refusal to bargain on a mandatory item (one must bargain over these) or insistence on a permissive item (one may bargain over these).
Of course requiring good faith bargaining doesn’t man that negotiations can’t grind to a halt. For example Northwest Airlines wouldn’t let its negotiators meet with mechanics union representatives because, North West said the union didn’t respond to company proposals the last three times they met. Claiming that Bryant College negotiators were not sufficiently responsive with respect to wages and benefits the Service Employees International Union, local 134 filed an unfair labor practice claiming Bryant failed to negotiate in good faith.