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Bargaining Structure. The structure of bargaining is a broad concept referring to the group or groups of employees and employers who help determine or are affected by a collective agreement. Bargaining Structure.

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bargaining structure

Bargaining Structure

The structure of bargaining is a broad concept referring to the group or groups of employees and employers who help determine or are affected by a collective agreement.

bargaining structure2

Bargaining Structure

Bargaining structure can be thought of as consisting of FOUR COMPONENTS which are not necessarily distinct:

Informal Work Group

Election Unit

Negotiations Unit

Unit of Direct Impact

informal work group

Informal Work Group

Workers that would have a tendency to have a common view of their work environment.

It may consist of workers in one or more occupations that come into frequent contact with each other

election unit

Election Unit

A group or groups of workers that the NLRB feels is an appropriate one for the purpose of collective bargaining.

It is the certified bargaining unit, and it may consist of one or more informal work groups

election unit5

Election Unit

There are three categories of Election Units:

Single-employer, Single-location

Single-employer, Multi-location


negotiations unit

Negotiations Unit

The Negotiations Unit can be the same as the Election Unit, but if both parties agree to a broader bargaining unit the Negotiations Unit can include more than one Election Unit.

negotiations unit7

Negotiations Unit

Negotiations Units may encompass multiple Election Units in a single plant, several plants of the same employer, or among more than one employer.

Typically such units involve workers organized by the same union. Coalition bargaining is an exception.

unit of direct impact

Unit of Direct Impact

Extends beyond the boundaries of negotiations units. It may cover more than one industry, as when settlements by auto companies have a direct impact on auto parts companies.

the appropriate bargaining unit

The Appropriate Bargaining Unit

Before a unit can be elected and certified as a representative of a group of employees, the NLRB must determine the appropriate bargaining unit that the union is to represent.

the appropriate bargaining unit10

The Appropriate Bargaining Unit

If the union and employer can agree on which employees should be in the Election Unit, the board will run the election in that unit.

Absent that agreement the responsibility for selecting the appropriate unit rest entirely with the board.

unit determination standards

Unit Determination Standards

Since the law provides few guidelines for unit determination, the board has developed its own:

Mutuality or community of interests

Geography or physical proximity

Employers’ administrative /

territorial division

unit determination standards12

Unit Determination Standards

Functional integration

Interchange of employees

Bargaining history

Employee desires

Extent of organization

Other guidelines may be considered

board limitations on certifications

Board Limitations on Certifications

The only limitation on the board’s authority with respect to its unit certification powers relates specifically to Professional, Craft, and Guard employees.

professional employees

Professional Employees

The board is not allowed to include both professional and nonprofessional employees in the same unit unless a majority of such professional employees vote for inclusion in such unit.

craft employees

Craft Employees

The board is prohibited from deciding that any craft unit is inappropriate for such purposes on the ground that a different unit has been established by a prior board determination.



The board is not permitted to certify guards in the same unit as nonguards.

additional observation on certifications

Additional Observation on Certifications

The board is not required to seek and certify the “most appropriate or optimal unit”

The board certifies units based on the “jobs” or “job classifications” and not on specific individuals employed in these classifications.

additional observation on certifications18

Additional Observation on Certifications


(to be somewhat redundant)

Membership in the unit and in the union are not necessarily the same.

the craft bargaining unit

The Craft Bargaining Unit

The NLRB has defined a true craft unit as a distinct and homogeneous group of skilled journeymen, craftsmen, working as such, together with apprentices and/or helpers.

the craft bargaining unit20

The Craft Bargaining Unit

From the point of view of Industrial Unions, it is not desirable to permit craft workers separate representations.

the craft bargaining unit21

The Craft Bargaining Unit


The bargaining status of craft employees within a firm depends on the nature of the craft, type of industry, collective bargaining history in the industry, and, most important, on the policies and practices of the NLRB.

the craft bargaining unit22

The Craft Bargaining Unit

Employers have a general bias toward bargaining with as few unions as possible.

Bargaining with multiple units increases costs and makes it more difficult to plan reliable production and marketing schedules.

the nlrb and craft bargaining

The NLRB and Craft Bargaining

Craft bargaining unit cases can be divided into two broad categories:

Initial Certification

Severance Cases

the nlrb and craft bargaining24

The NLRB and Craft Bargaining

In both instances, the NLRB has to decide whether the craft satisfies the appropriate criteria for certification.

It should be noted, however, that it is easier for a craft to gain separate certification rights when there is no successful history of collective bargaining within the context of a larger unit.

craft certification criteria

Craft Certification Criteria

The craft employees are unrepresented.

They are engaged in traditional craft work that is performed in a separate and distinct location apart from other employees.

They have a separate community of interests and do not interchange with other employees.

The union seeking recognition is a craft union traditionally representing the craft in question.

craft certification criteria26

Craft Certification Criteria

The board, confronted with the dilemma between the right of self-determination of craft employees and a potential threat to stability in industrial relations, will typically opt for stability.

significance of board certification decisions

Significance of Board Certification Decisions

The certification not only acts as a catalyst to collective bargaining, but it also influences collective bargaining outcomes.

Although the parties are free to expand bargaining beyond the unit selected by the board this initial selection by the board establishes the required basis for bargaining.

significance of board certification decisions28

Significance of Board Certification Decisions

A union considers several factors when deciding on its desired unit:

The predominant factor seems to be its ability to win and election.

Sometimes it’s agreeing to the employers desired unit in order to get a quick election

A third set of factors involves attempts to maximize the unit’s potential bargainingpower.

significance of board certification decisions29

Significance of Board Certification Decisions

Employers favor election units in which it would be difficult for a union to organize and obtain a majority.

Employers usually favor large election units primarily because it is more difficult for unions to win elections in such units.

There is less solidarity in large units, and Management has more staffing flexibility when all of its employees are in one large unit.

significance of board certification decisions30

Significance of Board Certification Decisions

In the end, which side has the upper hand in determining size of bargaining units may depend on the boards political coloration at the moment.

the structure of collective bargaining in the united states

The Structure of Collective Bargaining in the United States

Two thirds (66.6%) of employees covered by collective bargaining agreements in the United States are in situations where the actual negotiation area, represented by the people sitting at the bargaining table, is different from the area covered by the NLRB Certification.

bargaining structure union and management interests

Bargaining Structure Union and Management Interests

Union bargaining interest is described as being either narrow, as in a craft union representing workers with a narrow group of skills, or broad, as in an industrial union representing all employees in an industry.

bargaining structure union and management interests33

Bargaining Structure Union and Management Interests

Management interests are either centralized, as in multiemployer or single-employer multiplant negotiations, or decentralized, as in single-employer, single-plant bargaining.

determinants of bargaining structure

Determinants of Bargaining Structure

The term bargaining structure denotes a multiplicity of units tied together in a complicated network of relationships by social, legal, administrative and economic factors.

market factors

Market Factors

Both employers and unions take into account the market context when devising the dimensions of bargaining structures.

Under conditions of sever product market competition, some employers have opted for multiemployer bargaining to reduce at least one aspect of competitive pressure.

bargaining issues and structures

Bargaining Issues and Structures

Bargaining issues can be classified as:

Market-wide - (wages)

Company-wide - (benefits)

Local - (plant rules)

Current tend is toward more decentralized bargaining - more emphasis on productivity and job security.

representational factors

Representational Factors

Individual firms and unions are sometimes willing to enter into comprehensive alliances in order to increase their bargaining power.

the impact of government

The Impact of Government

The bargaining unit decisions of the NLRB undoubtedly shape and influence the characteristics and nature of the present bargaining structure.

power tactics

Power Tactics

Each party seeks to develop bargaining structures that would maximize their bargaining power.

Multiplant employers engaged in the production of the same product in a number of plants, would typically opt for a structure that consists of individual single-plant bargaining units. Vertically integrated production units would incline the employer in the opposite direction. And of course the union would object.

individual employee influence

Individual Employee Influence

Individual influence is perhaps greatest in narrow, decentralized bargaining units where the union represents only one occupation and negotiations are with a single employer, perhaps at the plant level.

the multiemployer bargaining unit

The Multiemployer Bargaining Unit

When a number of employers join forces for purposes of collective bargaining, the unit structure is described as a multiemployer bargaining unit.

Sometimes agreements negotiated by a few large employers are also signed by smaller employers, who may agree to essentially the same terms as those approved by a larger employer.

the multiemployer bargaining unit42

The Multiemployer Bargaining Unit

The primary form of bargaining in the


Food Products and,

Apparel Industries

effects of multiemployer bargaining

Effects of Multiemployer Bargaining

Competitive pressures are the dominant force encouraging both unions and employers to enter into multiemployer or industry-wide bargaining relationships.

effects of multiemployer bargaining44

Effects of Multiemployer Bargaining

Small employers in highly competitive and labor-intense fields may find it easier to operate with uniformity of labor costs.

effects of multiemployer bargaining45

Effects of Multiemployer Bargaining

The multiemployer unit is particularly advantageous to both sides in industries composed of many small, financially weak employers.

(Neutralize the cost of benefits.)

effects of multiemployer bargaining46

Effects of Multiemployer Bargaining

Multiemployer bargaining provides both unions and management with significant cost savings in negotiation of labor agreements.

effects of multiemployer bargaining47

Effects of Multiemployer Bargaining

On the down side, multiemployer bargaining may overlook the needs of various employee groups, and ignore particular requirements of individual employers.

(causing high levels of internal stress)

effects of multiemployer bargaining48

Effects of Multiemployer Bargaining

It should also be noted that multiemployer agreements are much more difficult to conclude than the single-employer contracts.

effects of multiemployer bargaining49

Effects of Multiemployer Bargaining

In some multiemployer units, master contracts cover only items such as wages and major benefits, with other issues negotiated at the local level.

bargaining power in the multiemployer unit

Bargaining Power in the Multiemployer Unit

There are a number of reasons for employers’ forming multiemployer units:

Some give up power to lessen competition in the product market, or to achieve industrial peace and greater stability in labor relations.

bargaining power in the multiemployer unit51

Bargaining Power in the Multiemployer Unit

Some employers have a need for a countervailing power in the face of strong unions.

Some unions also favor mutiemployer bargaining as means of increasing their power.

bargaining power in the multiemployer unit52

Bargaining Power in the Multiemployer Unit

In some instances, the bargaining power of a union may decline under industry-wide bargaining.

And in some instances it may be in the interest of the union to give up some of its power as a means of satisfying its other objectives. Thesurvival of the firm.

the pros and cons of multiemployer bargaining

The Pros and Cons of Multiemployer Bargaining

One consequence of multiemployer bargaining is uniformity of contract terms.

There is opposition to such standardization on the grounds that it may be detrimental to the public interest.

the pros and cons of multiemployer bargaining54

The Pros and Cons of Multiemployer Bargaining

One of the major counters to this criticism is that this type of bargaining has reduced the frequency of strikes and produced more stable and mature labor relations.

Additionally, the level of expertise and sophistication of negotiators on both sides is considerably higher.

the law and mutiemployer bargaining

The Law and Mutiemployer Bargaining

Although establishment of multiemployer bargaining is done on a consensual basis, the NLRB does impose some constraints on union and management behavior.

Under Supreme Court law, either side may withdraw at any time before negotiations actually begin as long as notice is given to the other side.

the future of multiemployer bargaining

The Future of Multiemployer Bargaining

The number of employers and workers covered by multiemployer labor contracts have significantly declined over the past 15 years.

The nature of the external environment is changing the focus of negotiations from industry stability to international competitiveness.

the future of multiemployer bargaining57

The Future of Multiemployer Bargaining

If the key issues continue to be those best addressed at the firm or plant level, such as productivity, job classifications, work rules, performance-based pay, and job security, the trend toward decentralization of bargaining may be expected.

coordinated or coalition bargaining

Coordinated or Coalition Bargaining

These terms refer to two or more unions seeking to negotiate similar terms with an employer.

In its strong form, one master agreement might be signed covering all employees of all unions.

coordinated or coalition bargaining59

Coordinated or Coalition Bargaining

The unions target of coordinated bargaining is the large multiplant corporation with an objective of increasing their bargaining power.

coordinated or coalition bargaining60

Coordinated or Coalition Bargaining

Some National unions suffer a lack of power when they compete.

One way to improve their position and to achieve a greater uniformity of terms in an industry is to employ coordination.

coordinated or coalition bargaining61

Coordinated or Coalition Bargaining

The main reason some employers have opposed coordinated bargaining is potential loss of bargaining power.

Employer consent is generally withheld in most large multiplant employer environments.

pattern bargaining

Pattern Bargaining

An informal means of spreading the terms and conditions of employment negotiated on one formal bargaining structure to another.