December 14, 2011

Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining - Review Notes

Human Resource Management Revision Article Series
Why do Workers Join Unions?

Bernardin provided three reasons.

1. Dissatisfaction with the work environment, compensation, and supervision.
2. A desire to have more influence in affecting change in the work environment.
3. Employee beliefs regarding the potential benefit of unions.

In USA, the National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act) was enacted to protect workers' rights to organize and join unions. Subsequently Taf-Harley Act was passed and it has put some limits on some of the powers of unions.

Knolwedge of labor relations laws and process of collective bargaining is important for HRM specialists and general managers. Collective bargaining has to take views of both business managers and employees. Management representatives can't concede to issue that ultimately would impair to company's ability to stay in business. Similarly unions can't concede a relative fall in the benefits of workers compared to other companies in the area and economy.

The collective bargaining results in a labor contract valid for two to three years and in cases to stretching to five years.

Issues in collective bargaining

1. Wage related issues
2. Supplementary economic benefits
3. Institutional isses
4. Administrative issues.

Types of Bargaining

1. Distributive bargaining
2. Integrative bargaining
3. Concessionary bargaining

Conducting Labor Contract Negotiations - Process for HR Professionals


Reviewing and diagnosing the mistakes and weaknesses from past negotiated agreements and negotiation processes is a continuous activity that helps in future bargaining.  Collecting and reviewing recent agreements in the local area and industry wide databases on labor issues is to be done. Preparation also includes the understanding of current economic conditions, that include productivity and inflation trends and projected performance of the company.

Meetings conduct

There should be provisions in the bargaining terms sheet for negotiations to proceed smoothly. "Take it or leave it" proposals are typically ineffective as negotiation steps.

Resolution of bargaining deadlocks

The bargaining deadlocks can be referred to mediators.

Administration of the Contract

Despite the amount of time spent for coming out with an agreement, there appear problems in the actual implementation of the agreement.

Grievances and grievance procedure

A grievance is a formal complaint regarding an event, action, or practice. In the context of collective bargaining agreements, it is a complaint that says, the contract is violated. The first step of the grievance procedure is a meeting between the supervisor, the person concerned and the union representative. If it is not resolved at this stage, it goes to the manager of the supervisor. If it is not resolved here, it goes to the company level grievance committee.

Arbitration process

Arbitration involves bringing an impartial third party with mutual agreement to provide a ruling in the case of a deadlock that is final and binding on both parties.

Current Issues in U.S. Labor Relations Area (Bernardin)

1. Union membership
2. Mergers and acquisitions
3. Retraining
4. Employee benefits
5. International Labor Relations Issues

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