Collective Bargaining Agreements


Collective bargaining occurs when a group of employees joins together to negotiate terms of employment with their employer. When a final decision is made, this is considered a collective bargaining agreement. This process implicates the National Labor Relations Act and other important laws that employers must be aware of to protect their interests. 

National Labor Relations Act

This Act guarantees employees certain fundamental rights, including:

  • The right to organize into a union
  • The ability to engage in a collective bargaining negotiation
  • The right to be free from the interference, coercion or restraint by an employer to form or join a union
  • The right to be free from discrimination based on an applicant's participation in a union or assistance in a union hearing

Collective Bargaining

Additionally, the National Labor Relations Act requires employers and employees to engage in good faith collective bargaining. This requires both parties not to refuse to meet with the other party, engage in misleading negotiations or make changes to the terms of an existing collective bargaining agreement without consent from the other party. 

The goal of this process is often to make a collective bargaining agreement, which is a deal that may address a number of employee concerns. These concerns may include but are not limited to the following: 

  • Employee wages
  • Hours
  • Disciplinary matters
  • Workplace safety
  • Benefits
  • Raises
  • Promotions
  • Layoff procedures 
  • Work conditions

Collective Bargaining Process

The collective bargaining process usually involves the following process:

  1. Preparation - This step usually involves selecting a representative to represent the employees. 
  2. Discussion - Both parties may establish ground rules for the negotiation.
  3. Proposal - The parties lay out their opinions and possible solutions.
  4. Bargaining - The parties negotiate and compromise until they reach an agreement. 
  5. Collective bargaining agreement - The agreement is put in writing and signed by the parties. 

Investigative Consequences

​​​​​​​When employees are part of a collective bargaining agreement, the process of investigations becomes particularly precise. The collective bargaining agreement likely has specific protocols that must be followed to remain in compliance with the agreement. Additionally, certain laws, some of which comes from case law, must be adhered to.  It is paramount to work with a workplace investigator who is adept and respectful of collective bargaining agreements when your workplace is subject to a collective bargaining agreement.

Cite this article: Lynch, N. (2017). Collective Bargaining Agreements. Available:

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