Collective Agreements

What does Collective Agreements mean?

Collective agreements are agreements negotiated through collective bargaining by a group of employees and an employer. Collective agreements generally outline the conditions and terms of employment and are generally negotiated through labor organizations or labor unions. Federal and state laws, judicial decisions, and other regulations govern collective agreements.

Collective Bargaining and the National Labor Relations Act

Employees are given the legal right to join unions and collectively bargaining under regulations codified in the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. Under this act the National Relations Board was created and has defined additional provisions. Currently, the act pertains to both employers who participate in interstate commerce and those who have private, non-agricultural employees.

Issues which are commonly negotiated through collective bargaining and which may be outlined in a collective agreement include retirement benefits, health care benefits, sick leave, overtime pay, working hours, paid wages, and vacation time.

Pros and Cons to Collective Agreements

Labor union participation has declined in the last several years, and collective bargaining and unions have come under attack. Those who oppose collective bargaining and labor unions argue labor unions collective agreements have increased the costs of labor to the point of bankrupting certain state governments.

Labor unions have also overpaid employees with little regard to the cost to the taxpayer and the state. Collective agreements were also initially intended for the private sector employee where the need to protect the employee was more critical than in the public sector. Finally, relationships between public union officials, who donate to the campaigns of the elected officials, have, in some cases, created an unethical financial arrangement.

Those who favor collective agreements, however, argue the ability to collectively bargain can lead to higher productive as the employees and management solve problems together. They would also argue collective agreements protect employee rights, allows management to better understand the costs of salary and compensation, and promotes consistency of employee policies for all workers.

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