Like it or not, more and more workplaces have been unionizing. And employees unionizing means collective bargaining agreements. A collective bargaining agreement is a contract entered into by the employer and the employees that stipulates the terms of employment (the hours worked, the compensation, any benefits employees receive, etc.). Instead of a single worker negotiating for these things, unions represent all employees in arguing these terms for all of the employees. A collective bargaining agreement attorney can help you draft proposals to your employee’s union reps for support, finding a balance that is acceptable to both parties. A collective bargaining agreement attorney can also draft the final agreement to be signed by union reps and an employer.
The Right to Organize
Congress protected the rights of employees to unionize in the National Labor Relations Act, which says that “Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing…” (29 U.S.C. § 157). The act additionally defines unfair employment practices by an employer to be interfering with that right, dominating or interfering with the union, and refusing to collectively bargain with the employee’s voted representative; these are a few of the unfair labor practices that employers could engage in. While there are no civil penalties for disobeying the NLRA, violations could cause the National Labor Relations Board to call for another union election, which could likely be more successful. So, before employees even begin to collectively bargain, it can be useful to speak with a collective bargaining agreement attorney to help make sure that if you plead your case for non-unionization, you do so in a way that does not potentially trigger a recount.
Example of the Collective Bargaining Process
Let’s say you own a restaurant and your employees start to organize. You start your case that unionization will harm your business as you already have razor thin margins, but your employees decide to vote for representation by a service worker’s union. Now you need to decide what you will offer to your employees. You have thin margins, so you want to propose a $0.50 pay raise each year to a total of $16.00 in 10 years, with 3 days of paid time off and 5 days of sick leave. You have a collective bargaining agreement attorney write up the proposal, and the union reps take it to your employees for a vote. The employees vote against ratifying the agreement and suggest they either want their pay increased to $16.00 sooner or they want health insurance. You hit the books and see which one will cost you more in the long run, and decide that an employee health insurance agreement would cost less in the long run. Your collective bargaining agreement attorney drafts the proposal, the union reps take it to a vote, and the employees agree. The collective bargaining agreement attorney writes up the actual collective bargaining agreement and you and the union reps sign it, and it becomes the pay package for your employees.