Pros and Cons of Collective Bargaining

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Pros and Cons of Collective Bargaining

Section I: General advantages and disadvantages of collective bargaining


• Can lead to high-performance workplace where labor and management jointly engage in problem solving, addressing issues on an equal standing.

• Provides legally based bilateral relationship.

• Management’s rights are clearly spelled out.

• Employers’ and employees’ rights protected by binding collective bargaining agreement.

• Multi-year contracts may provide budgetary predictability on salary and other compensation issues.

• Unions may become strong allies in protecting higher education from the effects of an economic slowdown.

• Promotes fairness and consistency in employment policies and personnel decisions within and across institutions.

• Employees may choose whether they want union representation.

• A strong labor management partnership may enable the workforce development needed for engaging the technology revolution.


• Management’s authority and freedom are much more restricted by negotiated rules.

• Creates significant potential for polarization between employees and managers.

• Disproportionate effect of relatively few active employees on the many in the bargaining unit. This is particularly the case when collective bargaining involves a system-wide structure of elections.

• Increases bureaucratization and requires longer time needed for decision making.

• Increases participation by external entities (e.g., arbitrators, State Labor Relations Board) in higher education’s decision making.

• Protects the status quo, thereby inhibiting innovation and change. This is particularly the case when the change involves privatizations.

• More difficult for employees at smaller campuses to have their voices heard.

• Higher management costs associated with negotiating and administering the agreements.