С Reading

  1. l. Read the text and answer the questions.
  1. How do closed and open shops differ?
  2. What contract issues are addressed in the bargaining process?
  3. Why have workers become “job conscious”?
  4. How does the bargaining process occur?

Collective Bargaining

  1. R.
    McConnell, S. L. Brue

Despite the decline of unionism, collective bargaining — the negotiation of labor contracts — remains an important feature of labor-management relations. The goal of collective bargaining is to establish a “work agreement” between the firm and the union.

The Work Agreement

Collective bargaining agreements (contracts) assume many forms. Some contracts are brief, taking up only 2 or 3 pages; others are lengthy and highly detailed, requiring 200 or 300 pages of print. Some agreements involve only a local union and a single plant; others set wages, hours, and working conditions for entire industries.

Typically, however, collective bargaining agreements cover several topics.

Union Status and Managerial Prerogatives. As for union status, the closed shop affords the union the greatest security. In a closed shop, a worker must be (or become) a member of the union before being hired. Under Federal labor law, such shops are illegal in industries other than transportation and construction. In contrast, a union shop permits the employer to hire nonunion workers but provides that these workers must join the union within a specified period, say, 30 days, or relinquish their jobs. An agency shop requires nonunion workers to pay union dues or donate an equivalent amount to charityi Union and agency s~hops are legal, except in the 20 states which expressly prohibit them through so-called right-to-work laws. In the open shop, an employer may hire union or nonunion workers.

Those who are nonunion are not obligated to join the union or pay union dues; they may continue on their jobs indefinitely as nonunion workers. Nevertheless, the wage, hours, and working conditions set forth in the work agreement apply to the nonunion workers as well as the union workers.

The management side of the union-status issue is managerial prerogatives. Most work agreements contain clauses outlining certain decisions reserved solely for management. These prerogatives usually cover such matters as size and location of plants, products to be manufactured, types of equipment and materials to be used in production and in production scheduling.

Wages and Hours. The focal point of any bargaining agreement is wages and hours. Both labor and management press for the advantage in wage bargaining. The arguments which unions use most frequently in demanding (and by the firm in resisting) wage boosts are (1)

“what others are getting,” (2) the employer s ability to pay, based on its profitability, (3) increases in the cost of living, and (4) increases in labor productivity. In some cases, unions achieve success in tying wages to the cost of living through cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) clauses.

Hours of work, voluntary versus mandatory overtime, holiday and vacation provisions, profit sharing, and fringe benefits - health plans and pension benefits — are other contract issues which must be addressed in the bargaining process.

Seniority and Job Protection. The uncertainly of employment in a market economy, along with the fear of antiunion discrimination on the phrt of employers, has made workers and their unions “job conscious.” The explicit and detailed provisions covering job opportunities which most agreements contain reflect this concern. Unions stress seniority (length of service) as the basis for worker promotion and for layoff and recall. They want the worker with the longest continuous service to have the first chance at relevant promotions, be the last one laid off, and be the first one recalled from layoff.

In recent years, unions have become increasingly sensitive to losing jobs to nonunion subcontractors and to overseas workers.

Unions sometimes seek limits on the firm’s ability to subcontract out work or to relocate production facilities overseas.

Grievance Procedures. Even the most detailed and comprehensive work agreement cannot spell out all the specific issues and problems which might occur during its life. For example, suppose that Nelson gets reassigned to a kss pleasant job. Was this reassignment for legitimate business reasons or, as Nelson suspects, because of a personality conflict with a particular manager? Labor contracts contain gnevance procedures to resolve such matters.

The Bargaining Process

The date for the beginning of collective bargaining on a new contract is usually set in the existing contract and is usually 60 days before the current one expires. The union normally takes the initiative, presenting its demands in the form of specific wage, fringe-benefit, and other adjustments to the present union-management contract. The firm counters with an offer relating to these and other contract provisions. It is not unusual for the original union demand and the first offer by the firm to be far apart, not only because of the parties’ conflicting interests but also because the parties know they are obligated by law to bargain in good faith. The initial ‘large demand-low offer situation” leaves plenty of room for compromise during the negotiations.

The negotiating then begins in earnest on items in dispute. Hanging over the negotiations is the deadline, which occurs the moment the present contract expires. At that time there is a possibility of a strike — a “work stoppage” by the union — if it thinks its demands are not satisfactorily met. But there is also the possibility that at that time the firm may engage in a lockout, in which it forbids the workers to return to work until a new contract is signed. In this setting of uncertainty prior to the deadline, both parties feel pressure to find mutually acceptable terms.

Although bluster and bickering often occur in collective bargaining, labor and management display a remarkable capacity for compromise and agreement.

Typically they reach a compromise solution which is written into a new contract. Nevertheless, strikes and lockouts occasionally do occur. When they happen, workers lose income and firms lose profit. To stem their losses, both parties look for and usually eventually find ways to settle the labor dispute and get the workers back to work.

Bargaining, strikes, and lockouts occur within a framework of Federal labor law, specifically the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This act was first passed as the Wagner Act of 1935 and later amended by the Taft- Hartley Act of 1947 and the Landrum-Griffin Act of 1959. The act sets forth the dos and don’ts of union and management labor practices. For example, while union members can picket in front of a firm’s business, they cannot block access to the business by customers, co-workers, or strikebreakers hired by the firm. As a second example, firms cannot refuse to meet and talk with the union’s designated representatives.

  1. 2. Decide whether these statements are True (T) or False (F).
  1. A union shop affords the union the greatest security.
  2. Union and agency shops are illegal in 20 states.
  3. Nonunion workers cannot exercise their rights set forth in the work agreement.
  4. The bargaining process usually begins within two months before the expiration of the current contract.
  5. Both parties are pressed to find mutually acceptable terms prior to the deadline.
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Источник: Е. Н. Малюга. Английский язык для экономистов: Учебник для вузов / Е. Н. Малюга, Н.              В. Ваванова, Г. Н. Куприянова, И. В. Пушнова. — СПб.: Питер,2005. — 304 с.: ил.. 2005

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