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Workers Covered by Collective Bargaining Agreements

By 2022-04-20No Comments

Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are at the heart of decent work. These are fundamental rights in the workplace and the basis for healthy labour relations and effective social dialogue. Data and indicators on trade union membership and coverage of collective agreements, as well as other qualitative indicators, are important for monitoring progress towards the effective implementation of these rights in the workplace. Measuring these social dialogue indicators is also essential to assess the quality of industrial relations and their impact on employment and working conditions. Every year, millions of American workers negotiate or renegotiate their negotiated contracts. However, some employers are trying to undermine existing bargaining relationships and cancel many hard-won contract terms. Trade unions continue to fight for the inherent rights of workers and to restore the balance of economic power in our country through collective agreements. But the NLRA missed its goal. For decades, the proportion of private sector workers covered by a collective agreement has steadily declined to just over 7% of private sector workers, less than a third of what it was 40 years ago.4 The overall union membership rate is now lower than when the NLRA was passed.5 Unions can obtain certification from a national collective bargaining unit from a single employer and negotiate a single collective agreement that covers all of that employer`s locations, or they can bargain nationally on a multi-employer basis. Examples of both will follow. Not only is the current law biased in favour of single-facility collective bargaining units, but it also puts obstacles in the way of workers and unions trying to coordinate collective bargaining across multiple institutions. For example, the current law limits the ability of workers and unions to coordinate the expiry dates of contracts that cover different collective bargaining units in several institutions, although common expiry dates would bring rationality and order to the bargaining process.

Nor can workers picket or attempt to exert economic pressure on a „neutral“ employer other than their own to promote their goals at the bargaining table – such activities will most likely be declared illegal as an illegal „secondary boycott“. Finally, workers and unions are limited in their ability to negotiate the labour practices of the suppliers and contractors their employers commission to perform the work. Unless these practices directly affect the work and workers covered by the collective agreement, they are likely to be considered „permissive“ bargaining grounds, meaning that the employer is not legally required to bargain about them if it decides not to do so. The National Labour Relations Act prohibits employers from interfering, restricting or coercing employees to exercise their rights related to the organization, establishment, membership or support of a work organization for collective bargaining, or from cooperating to improve working conditions. Similarly, workers` organizations may not restrict or compel workers to exercise these rights. Employers can, if they wish, accept employees` request to bargain on the basis of multiple employers, and this practice has a long history. This is voluntary on the part of employers, but if employers have agreed to negotiate with multiple employers, the NLRB will apply this practice. When negotiating with multiple employers, each participating employer agrees to appoint a representative – usually an association – for the purposes of collective bargaining, and each employer is then bound by the terms of the negotiated agreement. In the 1970s, it was estimated that 10% of workers in the private sector were covered by collective agreements with several employers.18 25. Noam Scheiber, „Nissan Workers in Mississippi Reject Union Bid by U.A.W. New York Times, August 5, 2017 (reports on a UAW organizing campaign at Nissan, noting that „experienced workers at the plant earn about $26 an hour, usually a few dollars less than veteran workers represented by the Union of Major American Auto Manufacturers, and well above the median wage in Mississippi“). Recently, the union concluded negotiations on about 75,000 commercial building cleaners on the East Coast.

In New York alone, the agreement includes 22,000 commercial cleaners.32 The union negotiates with an employers` association or employers` groups, and its agreements bind the signatory employers in all cities where the union has local agreements. In other words, for example, New York City employers agree in the New York Agreement to abide by the Philadelphia collective agreement if they work in Philadelphia. In recent negotiations, SEIU Local 32BJ secured significant wage increases, pension improvements, new protections against sexual harassment and more. Employers also agreed to a union recognition process for cleaners in Miami, opening the door to extending collective bargaining protection to another 1,500 building cleaners in that city. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) negotiates with major grocery chains in Southern California through several employers. Previously, negotiations involved more grocers, but due to mergers in the industry, only two large chains – Ralphs and Albertsons – are still involved in the negotiations. In the fall of 2019, the union was able to reach an agreement that covers 46,000 workers in more than 500 branches. The agreement provided for wage increases, preserved health benefits, guaranteed more hours, and helped reduce the wage gap between job classifications.33 While only two major grocers sat at the bargaining table, the collective agreement set a standard and other local food chains — including Gelson`s, Stater Bros. and Super A Foods — signed collective agreements with their workers who offer comparable or better conditions.

have. A challenge for the union is when unionized grocers enter into partnerships and other business agreements with new companies and use them to undermine the work of collective bargaining units – for example, by outsourcing work that would be outsourced by bargaining unit members to companies such as Instacart – or when unionized grocers lower labor standards for chains by creating food deserts. as Kroger did with its subsidiary Food 4 Less. In Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, 584 USA __ (2018), the Supreme Court upheld arbitration agreements that prohibited workers from asserting labor-related claims on a collective or collective basis. The court ruled that this fell under the Arbitration Act (9 U.S.C. §§2, 3, 4) is clear, which „obliges the courts to apply arbitration agreements, including arbitrations chosen by the parties“. The Court also clarified that freedom of association means that a person has the right to develop his or her own beliefs rather than having them coerced by the state.

Unions are therefore prohibited from using non-members` money to promote an ideological cause that has nothing to do with the union`s duties as a representative of collective bargaining […].

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