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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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 can be thought of as consisting of FOUR COMPONENTS which are not necessarily distinct:
Informal Work Group
Unit of Direct Impact
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
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
There are three categories of Election Units:
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 /
Interchange of employees
Extent of organization
Other guidelines may be considered
The only limitation on the board’s authority with respect to its unit certification powers relates specifically to Professional, Craft, and Guard 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.
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.
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.
(to be somewhat redundant)
Membership in the unit and in the union are not necessarily the same.
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.
From the point of view of Industrial Unions, it is not desirable to permit craft workers separate representations.
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.
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.
Craft bargaining unit cases can be divided into two broad categories:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Management interests are either centralized, as in multiemployer or single-employer multiplant negotiations, or decentralized, as in single-employer, single-plant bargaining.
The term bargaining structure denotes a multiplicity of units tied together in a complicated network of relationships by social, legal, administrative and economic 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 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.
Individual firms and unions are sometimes willing to enter into comprehensive alliances in order to increase their bargaining power.
The bargaining unit decisions of the NLRB undoubtedly shape and influence the characteristics and nature of the present bargaining structure.
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 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.
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 primary form of bargaining in the
Food Products and,
Competitive pressures are the dominant force encouraging both unions and employers to enter into multiemployer or industry-wide bargaining relationships.
Small employers in highly competitive and labor-intense fields may find it easier to operate with uniformity of labor costs.
The multiemployer unit is particularly advantageous to both sides in industries composed of many small, financially weak employers.
(Neutralize the cost of benefits.)
Multiemployer bargaining provides both unions and management with significant cost savings in negotiation of labor agreements.
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)
It should also be noted that multiemployer agreements are much more difficult to conclude than the single-employer contracts.
In some multiemployer units, master contracts cover only items such as wages and major benefits, with other issues negotiated at the local level.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
The unions target of coordinated bargaining is the large multiplant corporation with an objective of increasing their bargaining power.
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.
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.
An informal means of spreading the terms and conditions of employment negotiated on one formal bargaining structure to another.