The Collective Bargaining Process

What is collective bargaining?

Collective bargaining is the mutual obligation of employers and employees' representatives to meet at reasonable times and confer in good faith with respect to wages, hours, standards of productivity and performance, and other terms and conditions of employment. This includes the mutual obligation to negotiate an agreement and bargain over questions arising under an agreement.

Who may represent the respective parties in the actual bargaining process?

The parties may be represented by a person or persons of their own choosing at the bargaining table. 

What if the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement conflict with applicable law?

If there is a conflict between the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement and certain statutes enumerated in Section 7(d) of the Law, the terms of the agreement prevail. The enumerated statutes deal essentially with wages and/or "working conditions." If there is a conflict between the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement and a statute not enumerated in Section 7(d) of the Law, the statute prevails, but an employer generally must still bargain over the impacts of the statute on any mandatory subjects of bargaining.

Must an employer negotiate with the bargaining unit’s representatives?

Yes. The employer and exclusive bargaining representative must, upon demand, negotiate in good faith with respect to wages, hours, standards of productivity and performance, and other terms and conditions of employment. No public employer may exempt itself from the operative provisions of the law. However, if a term or condition of employment is addressed in a collective bargaining agreement, generally the employer is not obligated to bargain over that topic during the life of the agreement.

Is either side required to agree?

No, but both sides must bargain in good faith to agreement or impasse. If an agreement is reached, it should be reduced to writing and executed by the parties.

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