Collective Bargaining

Collective Bargaining


Collective bargaining is an important tool that is used in harmonizing the needs of workers and those of the employers. Many issues are involved when issues to do with collective bargaining is referred to. Among the issues is on how to harmonize the parties involved and create a healthy relationship by solving conflicts amicably. This paper is of value is at talks about collective bargaining, in brief, theories of collective bargaining, features of collective bargaining, problem analysis, issues between employees and management and finally instances when collective bargaining goes against the law.


Collective bargaining is referred to as the process by which employers and groups of employees discuss matters that are related to employment, remuneration, working standards and many more aspects that touch on employment. Rights of workers, benefits and other elements that at times might be of significance to the workers or employees are core and are discussed through collective bargaining and agreements emanating from such. The interests of employees and workers are usually presented by the trade unions to which the employees are members and have a cover (Katz et al., 2017). Collective bargaining aims to ensure that matters to do with wage scales, the number of working hours, training and staff development, grievances mechanisms, touching issues on health and safety and the rights to participate in the workplaces or issues that are related to the company.

In most cases the only way to establish a working and positive relationship with workers and employees are by allowing them to come together and lobby for their rights and interests at workplaces and when work is involved. Since human beings are social animals, it has always been a thing of the past to have individuals coming together to improve their bargaining power and influence on matters that affect them with great magnitude. Workers in public administration and public enterprises are not immune to this as they as well require representation and a platform by which they can air their grievances (Tang, 2016). Trade unions may at times negotiate with employers or at other times consult with the representatives of the entire industry on what employees are interested in or what needs to be discussed about. Agreements reached in this case might be industry-wide or related to a single company or employers, and this depends on the country or the region in perspective. Collective bargaining agreements are contracts between the employers and one or more labor or trade unions, and this is usually set as per the needs of the industry.

Harmonizing working conditions and the requirements of workers is an essential tool and aspects that enables workers and employers to find a balance and create an environment for them to work together. The influx of industrial disputes over the years has led to collective bargaining becoming part of the scope of the employers and employees besides their primary mandate. According to Walsh & Mangum (2016), collective bargaining could mean more than the formal discussions that are meant to bring a working relationship between two or more parties. In some scenarios, the employers who are the public service might be required to include a neutral third party especially the labor courts to successfully harmonize collective bargaining. This is to adequately ensure that the terms of the agreement are all enforced without leaving any parts behind (Frandsen, 2016). Administration of negotiations and interpretation of collective bargaining agreements is also an important aspect that significantly reduces challenges in working and improves the existing relationship between the workers. The essence of collective bargaining is to ensure that the interested parties from the organization and the workers union are satisfied and willing to continue rendering their services.

The International Labor Organization believes that harmonizing collective bargaining agreements is one crucial aspect that would in a significant way to reduce industrial strikes, promote efficiency and improve employer-employee relations in workplaces. Terms of agreement in a working scenario mean ensuring that the rights and obligations of each party, and it sets with its specific conditions of the employees in matters of internal disputes resolutions, disputes counseling and how this could impact the workers. Collective bargaining involves negotiations, drafting, and administration, interpretation of documents that have been written by the employers, employees and the representatives of the union. In some cases, a government agency is involved with matters to do with labor in the country and other organizational trade unions. Collective bargaining could be in different forms; the first scenario involves bargaining between a single employer and a single union. This type of bargaining is known as single plant bargaining, and it is most popular in the United States of America and India. Secondly, bargaining agreements may be set between a single firm having different units and entities. This form is popularly known as multiple plants bargaining as it involves a joint employer with different trade unions. Unions belonging to the same industry might also decide to come together under their federation and bargaining for wetter working conditions or terms for their employment. Most instances in India are characterized by this form of bargaining which is known as multiple employers bargaining. Industrywide bargainings are good because they allow the quality of working conditions to be given to the employees and workers and ensure that this consistency is spread across the country. Industrywide bargainings create a favorable condition for both employers and employees (Cheng, 2016). Collective bargaining is the only way to establish a balance and a positive working relationship between employers, employees and the trade unions representing those workers. Since the goal is not to paralyze work, collective bargaining’s should be embraced by across the board as they are the only legitimate way to enhance an employee-employer relationship both in the long term and short term for the entire industry or one single organization.

Literature Review

Collective bargaining is an important aspect that is believed to have emerged after industrialization as workers felt the need to have their interests considered. According to Bezes & Lodge (2015), collective bargaining restores confidence between workers and employers and empowers them to work with no boundaries. Tang (2016) in his work suggests that organizations could become highly effective if they created a framework by which they would address the interests of the workers and their employees. In the words of Estreicher (2015), the existence of strong representative trade unions in an industry is one crucial factor that could encourage collective bargaining to be achieved. The existence of a fact-finding approach and the willingness to use new methods, tools and approaches is the way out to end industrial disputes. Fine (2015) further suggests that during the process of developing the collective bargaining it is essential to have figures and facts for both parties to avoid pushing the needs one party at the expense of the other. Collective bargaining can further become a possibility if there exists strong and enlightened management that can with ease integrate the different parties involved in collective bargaining.

Katz et al. (2017) suggest collective bargaining is not only about the employers and employees and therefore the management must be enlightened to be able to even address the concerns of consumers, business owners, the society and the government. Cheng (2016) in his works on collective bargaining suggests that agreements on primary objectives of the organization between the employer and the employee on mutual rights, liabilities, and privileges should be established to make it possible for collective bargaining agreements to make sense and be workable. Avoiding unfair labor practices by all parties is also important for collective bargaining and its functions to work properly (Frandsen 2016). Walsh & Mangum (2016) believes that conducting collective bargaining’s at plant levels to ensure that it is effective and will bring the anticipated results. Maintaining proper records for the problems should be done to ensure that a trend is established on how future problems can be dealt with. In the words of Bezes & Lodge (2015), lobbying for a change of attitude between employees and employers is important as it helps them solve the disputes that might be existing Resolving differences establishes a harmonious working relationship in most cases, and this should always be embraced

According to research done by Estreicher (2015), collective bargaining represents a democratic and fair approach in solving the disputes that arise at any point, and this reduces industrial unrests by a wide margin. The right to collectively bargain is recognized internationally through the human rights conventions through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Tang (2016) identifies that the ability to organize trade unions itself is a fundamental human right that cannot be denied. In the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights of Work establishes that freedom of association and the right to be organized is an essential right for workers. According to Cheng (2016) the right to bargain collectively with an employer enhances the human dignity and places individuals at a comfortable position of liberty and autonomy. Giving workers the opportunity to influence the establishments of workplace rules and be in control of their work is a huge step in creating mobility of labor, enhancing productivity and streamlining relations between all the parties involved (Cheng, 2016).

Katz et al. (2017) observes that through collective bargaining workers can achieve a form of workplace democracy that cannot be denied, and this ensures that the rule of law is observed in workplaces. Empirical findings from the works of Tang (2016) indicate that unionized members and other employees and workers covered by collective agreements on average get a wage markup as compared to their uncovered and nonunionized counterparts. The markup in industrialized nations is up to 10 % and in industrializing nations between 3%-5%. Creating worker unions and participation in collective bargaining agreements for workers creates equality in income distribution more between the skilled workers and those that are not skilled at all. Estreicher (2015) confirms that welfare losses associated with unions are roughly to the extent of 0.2 to 0.5 of the gross domestic product which can be compared to scenarios of monopolies in most product markets. According to Walsh & Mangum (2016), there are four important methods to collective bargaining that include negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and conciliation. The method used depends on the extent of the problem and how the situation looks like at the ground level. In this context Fine (2015) said that methods like arbitration are only preferred when parties have been unsuccessful at reaching an agreement, interpretation of the agreement set might require arbitrators or courts of law.

Frandsen (2016) says that a conciliation is an approach that could be preferred in most cases especially if a public board is trying to induce collective bargaining. In case collective bargaining breaks down, compulsory arbitration, and mediation is usually applied. In the works of Katz et al. (2017) competitive bargaining may become a nightmare especially when there is a strong competition of the parties involved (Frandsen 2016). Competition is becoming a great hitch ast negotiation tables since all parties involved are after ensuring that their interests are considered. In most cases, this does not work because the goals of one party might conflict with that of the other party. Instance, where all parties involved are not well equipped, could also lead to a collective bargaining stalling as Cheng (2016) explains in their book. It is very important to ensure that all parties sitting at the negotiation table have done their homework and have all the information that is required to make the negotiations workable. In cases where the government sets prices or conditions, negotiations and setting collective bargaining might become a nightmare. In case this happens it is only prudent to call the government to act through the right procedures (Bezes & Lodge, 2015). Workers working in public administration usually find themselves in this situation as the government sets most of the conditions.

In some situations, as Fine (2015) puts it, it is difficult to engage in collective bargaining discussions since the conditions do not allow this to happen. When such situations come into play, it is usually important to wait for the right time as advised by (Tang, 2016). The multiplicity of trade unions, fresh demands at a time of getting into agreements, as well as agreements in other industrial units are among the other reasons that hamper effective collective bargaining in most case (Fine, 2015). According to a study conducted in 2016 by Walsh & Mangum (2016), most collective bargaining agreements collapse because of these three reasons. Statutory provisions that are imposed by the regulatory and participative provisions especially in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Payment of Wages Act, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988, the Payment of Bonus Act and the Minimum Wages Act are all statutory, and provisions set here are not negotiable (Cheng, 2016).

Theories on Collective Bargaining

The Marketing Concept

The marketing concept of collective bargaining views collective bargaining as a contract for the sale of labor from one party to the other party under stipulated conditions. According to the theory, employees sell their labor individually based on terms that are collectively agreed and determined by the tenets and basis of the contract (Fine, 2015). Through the market theory, it is believed that employees continue to sell their workforce through the common agent and the agreement that is established. The uncertain nature of most trade cycles and the ever-increasing competition of jobs makes collective bargaining a necessity in the modern world. Trade unions are believed to provide strength to the laborers and other individuals that are offering their labor for sale (Cheng, 2016). According to market theory and concept, it is through the trade unions that individuals can offer their labor without losing their benefits. Through the market concept, it is difficult for the employer to face dispense authority and push matters without the trade unions intervening.

The Governmental Concept

Government concepts and procedures view collective bargaining as a part of the structures that are believed to exist in a constitutional system. In this regard, the agreement is taken to be the law. The existing trade unions share power with the management over the workers, and this power is used for the interests of the workers. According to Estreicher (2015). The theory establishes a political relationship and acknowledging the relationship as contractual. The contract, in this case, is believed to be the constitution that sets the guidelines of the labor terms and trade agreement (Fine, 2015).

The agreement, in this case, sets it clear on what is required to deal with conflicts or issues that arise. In case of management do not adhere to things as set in the constitution which in this case is the contract a neutral body which is the judiciary might be called upon to enforce the provisions set. The governmental concept creates a joint industrial government whereby the unions share the sovereignty with the management over the workers and affairs are defended jointly from external interference.

The Industrial Relations Concept

The industrial concept sets it’s out that collective bargaining is a system of industrial governance with a functional relationship. The established group of governments substitutes the state government. All discussions in this concept take place in good faith, and goodwill and agreements are set and arrived at (Fine, 2015). The industrial relations concept joins the union representatives with the company officials in coming up at the final agreement that can be adopted by all parties involved in the contract. In cases when agreements are not arrived at, a joint objective comes into place and takes control. The theory recognizes that the two or more entities are mutually beneficial to each other and thus mutual concern is a priority to them (Bezes & Lodge, 2015).

Features of Collaborative Bargaining

Collective bargaining has many features especially when it involves the public service. First, a collective agreement is a collective process that involves the representatives of both the management and the employees of the organization (Estreicher, 2015). Delegates and employees represent the trade unions to represent employers in collective bargaining. Collective bargaining is continuous processes that do not commence with negotiations and are not terminated at the agreement stages (Fine, 2015). Collective bargains are meant to establish regular and stable relationships between the parties involved. Since most collective agreements involve even the administration and application steps must at all times be put to ensure that it is made to be continuous.

Flexibility and mobility of collective bargaining agreements are important as this is the basis for reaching an agreement. All parties involved in bargaining must be willing to be fluid for an agreement to be reached. Collective bargainings are bipartite processes that have two parties as agents. The absence of one party in the process renders it invalid and the discussions not tenable. All collective bargaining agreements have to be dynamic and exude industrial democracy (Bezes & Lodge, 2015).  Collective bargaining and the processes involved are complimentary meaning that each party involved needs something else that the other party has and the only way to promote this exchange is by promoting and encouraging dialogue. Collective bargaining is usually aimed at achieving and maintaining discipline in the industry, and thus industrial jurisprudence is in the offing when collective bargaining is discussed (Frandsen 2016).

Problem Analysis

Problem analysis in collective bargaining is done depending on how the problem has affected the organization or depending on how deep it is. In some cases, problems can be analyzed by junior officers and they can be raised to the highest offices. In some instances, the junior officer is not able to analyze the problem and a union representative is the only way to analyze the problem and solve it (Fine, 2015). In most cases, organizations have developed a modality by which they analyze problems that can lead to disputes and out of that develop a mechanism to address the problem. In case the problem is affecting the whole industry, industry representatives might be used to develop an analysis of the problem and help design ways in which it can be solved (Estreicher, 2015).

During the first stage before such problems escalate it is always prudent to consult all the officers involved with matters of labor and better enough work closely with the offices that are involved with the employees (Bezes & Lodge, 2015).  The second step is to identify the causative issues leading to the problem and what are the possible remedies to the problem. In checking the remedies, it is always important to consider what would be the intervention or input of the government as it is the entity that is closely interlinked with public administration and public service (Fine, 2015). It is important to understand that as might one problem analysis methodology work with one organization, it might fail to work with another organization since the structures are different.

Issues in Collective Bargaining

Collective bargaining has many issues that are directly and indirectly related to it. Some of the issues are organizationally driven while some other issues are as a result of wrong policy formulation (Frandsen 2016). Failing to address and manage conflicts itself could lead to a work environment becoming hostile and organizational goals untenable. Since many issues relate to conflict management (Fine, 2015). It is prudent for organizations to ensure that disputes between em[ployees or direct disagreements between employees and business owners are minimized and kept at bay because they could have far-reaching effects on the stability of the organization and if not solved become big issues (Estreicher, 2015).


Past injustices and promises that have not been fulfilled could also spark disagreements and lead to conflicts. Complexities of working environments and the dynamics that come with that could also lead to employers and employees conflicting in several instances. Since no single organization is immune to these conflicts, it is always wise to ensure that there are modalities to solve the conflicts as when they emerge (Frandsen 2016).  According to Bezes & Lodge, (2015) solving conflicts and issues that arise at workplaces is the only sure way to predict whether an organization is stable on matters of employee-employer relations (Fine, 2015). Changes of regulation, administration and policies might in certain scenarios lead to issues and further escalate these to conflicts.


Issues Between Employees and Management

Several issues between the management and the employees could lead to conflicts and the need for collective bargaining or discussions. Fists, the issue of compensation might make workers seek to address it (Bezes & Lodge, 2015).  In most cases, compensation might stop becoming commensurate to services rendered by workers, and they might lobby to have a change. Working conditions might be challenging, and this might also become a reason that could bring the two parties together. Training of employees and benefits that they get can also become an issue if it is not addressed in the right way. It is believed that for employees to perform in the best way, they should be given the right training and benefits (Fine, 2015).

Issues between the management and the employees might emerge from the management’s side with the management having intentions to draft new contracts with the employees, and the employees are against this (Estreicher, 2015). Demands by the administration have in certain scenarios led to issues emerging between the employers and the employees and to a large extent the government. Striking a balanced agreement that satisfies all the parties is a challenging task, and it might lead to imbalances in some scenarios.

Industrial Relation Management

Industrial relations management is a branch that examines several aspects of employment and not only the unionized workforce as most people believe. According to Frandsen (2016), industrial relations management touches on trade unionism, labor-management relations, national labor policies, collective bargaining, and labor laws within a certain industry or area (Frandsen 2016).  Industrial relations management has there important scopes the first one being problem solving, science building and the ethical facet. In the science building facet industrial relations management seeks to understand how employment relations are established and how institutions can have an effect on this (Bezes & Lodge, 2015).  It is important to note that science involves major issues like labor economics, industrial sociology, human resource management then it qualifies to have the scientific aspect in it. Since labor markets are seen as imperfect, then conflicts of interest usually arise on what one party is seeking and what the other party is after. Balancing the two groups and giving them what they require is important and constitutes a large part of industrial relations management (Estreicher, 2015).

Creating a robust framework that can be used to address issues and challenges emanating from industrial and labor conflicts is an important aspect of industrial relations. According to Walsh & Mangum (2016), industrial relations management is a wide field that continues to become more open, comprehensive and challenging especially with the onset of new laws, policies, and guidelines on how employees-employer relations need to be managed (Estreicher, 2015). In most industrial nations, industrial relations management is handled by professionals since it is an issue that yields so much (Frandsen 2016).  Creating a steady balance between the needs ans goals of the employer, business owners, statutory agencies, the government, and other stakeholders is a daunting task that can only be handled by industrial relations management experts who have experience in the industries involved (Estreicher, 2015).

Laws against Collective Bargaining

Collective bargaining is a right that is given to workers and employers. Workers and employees are allowed to practice industrial action in a way that does not compromise the values that are set within the law (Frandsen 2016).  However, with this still in mind, it means that in certain situations and scenarios workers and employees cannot call for collective bargaining. Collective bargaining is against the law especially in cases where statutes have set how matters should be conducted (Bezes & Lodge, 2015). There are established statutory provisions that have been imposed by the government especially The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), that sets that non-exempt workers across the United States and its territories are entitled to a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour since July 24, 2009. In India, the Payment of Wages Act stipulates when such workers are to be paid in any pay week and the penalties that would accompany and an employer who does not adhere to the provisions (Bezes & Lodge, 2015).  The Minimum Wages Act in India provides minimum rates that are to be paid to employees in certain sectors and the provisions set are not legally binding but are statutory. The Payment of Bonus Act sets it that individuals in certain employment should be paid bonuses up to a certain limit, lastly  the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988 allows employers to notify employees in case they might lose their jobs, all these situations do not allow for negotiations, and everything set is to be adopted in entirety. There are scenarios where a situation might be in an industrial court, and this might prohibit collective bargaining (Estreicher, 2015).


Collective bargaining in public service is of significant value as this is the most open and democratic way that can be used to deal with all issues that touch or could affect employment. Workers working in the public service could not be able to ask or lobby for their rights because of the amount of influence the government yields on them. However, with collective bargaining, it is possible for the democracy of workers to be promoted quickly and flexible that will not negatively impact any of the parties involved.  Studies reveal that industries with enough and elaborate measures to deal with matters of industrial disputes, collective bargaining, and disputes resolution tend to save on costs, legal fees and human hours that can be channeled in production. In the current generation, the happiness and wellbeing of workers cannot be exchanged with anything else and therefore allowing workers and employees to organize themselves in unions that can lobby for their rights is essential. To the government, this is not only acceptable, but it is also the way to promoting democracy in workplaces. In conclusion, collective bargaining is here to stay as conditions, goals, and needs will always change and harmonizing; this is only through elaborate discussions.




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