Introduction to Collective Bargaining

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Let’s take a look at an introduction to collective bargaining. This course provides background on the structures, strategies, and skills required for collective bargaining. The institutional structure and legal rights related to collective bargaining vary by level of government, jurisdiction, and occupational group.

National labor laws that govern collective bargaining and representation rights for federal and private sector employees do not pertain to state and local government employees. State and local public employees’ bargaining and representational rights are enumerated wherever authorized by state law and, less frequently, by local ordinance or executive order. Collective bargaining is the process whereby labor and management representatives meet to set terms and conditions of employment for personnel in a bargaining unit.

Certain legal factors help to frame bargaining and union–management relationships. These factors are also influenced by and help to determine the strength and strategy of public unions.

They include the nature of the bilateral relationship, the type of union security provisions, the kind of administrative arrangements, the range of unfair labor practices, and the existence of dispute resolution or impasse procedures. The bargaining process itself is shaped by these factors. It typically unfolds in three phases: (1) organizing to bargain, (2) bargaining, and (3) administering the contract.

Each stage is characterized by distinct activities, which are discussed in turn next.

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