The Collective Bargaining Process

Topics: Negotiation, Collective bargaining, Trade union Pages: 15 (5394 words) Published: March 18, 2012
LBS 290
Applied Collective Bargaining
Course Work

Summarize three (3) topics covered during the semester and discuss the issues. To complete this paper the topics chosen are: The Collective Bargaining Process: Preparation, Strategies and Tactics

The Collective Bargaining Process: Preparation, Strategies and Tactics

Collective bargaining can be defined as a process where workers’ representative and management’s representative meet and treat at the bargaining table to determine the arrangement of the working relationship between an employer and employees in the workplace (Salamon, 2000; Leap, 1995). This involves setting the terms and condition of employment, putting systems in place to settled any conflict that may arise and determining employees’ contribution to organizing the daily work activities. The end product is a negotiated collective agreement or employment contract that sets the terms and provisions under which the workers are employed, usually for a period of not less than three (3) or more than five (5) years.

Leap (1995) identifies four (4) stages of the contract negotiation process which occur between management and labour: (1) preparation for negotiation; (2) the initial proposal; (3) primary bargaining and; (4) eleventh hour bargaining and (5) post settlement issues. (1) Preparation for Negotiation

The preparation stage occurs prior to the parties formally meeting to negotiate. It is the most important and longest part of the entire process which should begin long in advance of the expiration date for the existing contract. It can take between a few weeks to over a year to be completed depending on how difficult, controversial or simple the situation. According to the veteran negotiator Fritz Ihrig, 90 percent of what is accomplished at the bargaining table depends on the level of preparation. Leap acknowledges the importance of experience but stresses that careful and thorough preparation must not be substituted, and gives three reasons why: (1) it enables parties to determine bargaining objectives, rank demands, and set limits to concede to before work stoppage will be initiated; (2) it empowers negotiating teams to justify and defend it proposals, collecting and providing vital information that supports the proposals under discussion; (3) it allows negotiating teams to anticipate opponents’ demands, assess their strength weaknesses to reduce any surprise at the bargaining table. Proper preparation for negotiation results in a more realistic approach to negotiations by both sides. It reduces the potential for strike and lock-outs to occur and contributes to strengthening union and management bargaining power. Information gathering is a major aspect of the preparing for negotiating a collective agreement. Preparation for negotiation must be coordinated by either a human resource manager or an industrial relations officer who is responsible for coordinating the activities of various committees. The coordinator is also responsible for the development of a schedule or check list to ensure that all assigned task are completed on time and important bargaining subjects are not forgotten. Committees should be established to draft proposals for the various parts of the collective bargaining agreement. Examples; a wages and salary structure committee, an employee benefit committee or a health and safety committee. Another important aspect of preparation is to decide when to start preparing for a negotiation. One school of thought believes that should commence as soon as a collective agreement has been negotiated and becomes effective. Therefore as soon as negotiation for the current triennium has been completed preparation for the following should commence. However, one must be mindful that most of the pertinent information will not be available until the final year of the triennium, therefore the collection of data must be continuous. At least one year is...
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