Collective bargaining is a process of
negotiation Negotiation is a dialogue Dialogue (sometimes spelled dialog in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English l ...
between employers and a group of employees aimed at agreements to regulate working salaries, working conditions, benefits, and other aspects of workers' compensation and rights for workers. The interests of the employees are commonly presented by representatives of a
trade union A trade union (or a labor union in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native ...
to which the employees belong. The
collective agreement A collective agreement, collective labour agreement (CLA) or collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is a written contract negotiated through collective bargaining Collective bargaining is a process of negotiation between employers and a group of e ...
s reached by these negotiations usually set out wage scales, working hours, training, health and safety,
overtime Overtime is the amount of time someone works beyond normal working hours Working time is the period of time Time is the indefinite continued sequence, progress of existence and event (philosophy), events that occur in an apparently irre ...
grievance A grievance () is a wrong A wrong (from Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Ang ...
mechanisms, and rights to participate in workplace or company affairs. The union may negotiate with a single employer (who is typically representing a company's shareholders) or may negotiate with a group of businesses, depending on the country, to reach an industry-wide agreement. A collective agreement functions as a labour contract between an employer and one or more unions. Collective bargaining consists of the process of negotiation between representatives of a union and employers (generally represented by management, or, in some countries such as Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands, by an
employers' organization An employers' organization or employers' association is a collective organization of manufacturers, retailers, or other employers of wage labor. Employers' organizations seek to coordinate the behavior of their member companies in matters of mutual ...
) in respect of the terms and conditions of employment of employees, such as wages, hours of work, working conditions, grievance procedures, and about the rights and responsibilities of trade unions. The parties often refer to the result of the negotiation as a ''collective bargaining agreement'' (CBA) or as a ''collective employment agreement'' (CEA).


The term "collective bargaining" was first used in 1891 by
Beatrice Webb Martha Beatrice Webb, Baroness Passfield, (née Potter; 22 January 1858 – 30 April 1943), was an English sociologist, economist, socialist, labour historian and social reformer. It was Webb who coined the term ''collective bargaining Col ...
, a founder of the field of industrial relations in Britain. It refers to the sort of collective negotiations and agreements that had existed since the rise of trade unions during the 18th century.

United States

In the United States, the
National Labor Relations Act The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (also known as the Wagner Act) is a foundational statute of that guarantees the right of private sector employees to organize into s, engage in , and take such as s. Central to the act was a ban on s. Th ...

National Labor Relations Act
of 1935 made it illegal for any employer to deny union rights to an employee. The issue of unionizing government employees in a
public-sector trade union A public-sector trade union (or public-sector labor union) is a trade union which primarily represents the interests of employees within public sector or governmental organizations. History and recent developments Costa Rica In the late 1800s, ...
was much more controversial until the 1950s. In 1962 President
John F. Kennedy John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), often referred to by his initials JFK, was an American politician who served as the 35th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the ...

John F. Kennedy
issued an executive order granting federal employees the right to unionize. An issue of jurisdiction surfaced in ''National Labor Relations Board v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago ''(1979) when the Supreme Court held that the
National Labor Relations Board The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is an independent agency A regulatory agency or regulatory authority, is a Public benefit corporation Public-benefit corporation is a term that has different meanings in different jurisdictions. In so ...

National Labor Relations Board
(NLRB) could not assert jurisdiction over a church-operated school because such jurisdiction would violate the
First Amendment First or 1st is the ordinal form of the number one (#1). First or 1st may also refer to: *World record A world record is usually the best global and most important performance that is ever recorded and officially verified in a specific skill, ...
establishment of freedom of religion and the separation of church of state.

International protection

The right to collectively bargain is recognized through international human rights conventions. Article 23 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is an international document adopted by the United Nations General Assembly The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA or GA; french: link=no, Assemblée générale, AG) is one of the six p ...
identifies the ability to organize trade unions as a fundamental human right. Item 2(a) of the International Labour Organization's ''
Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work The Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work was adopted in 1998, at the 86th International Labour Conference. It is a statement made by the International Labour Organization The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a U ...
'' defines the "
freedom of association Freedom of association encompasses both an individual's right to join or leave groups voluntarily, the right of the group to take collective action Collective action refers to action taken together by a group of people whose goal A goal is ...
and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining" as an essential right of workers. The
Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention The Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention (1948No 87is an International Labour Organization Convention, and one of eight conventions that form the core of international labour law, as interpreted by the Declarat ...
, 1948 (C087) and several other conventions specifically protect collective bargaining through the creation of
international labour standards International labour law is the body of rules spanning public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or organisat ...
that discourage countries from violating workers' rights to associate and collectively bargain. In June 2007 the Supreme Court of Canada extensively reviewed the rationale for regarding collective bargaining as a human right. In the case of ''Facilities Subsector Bargaining Association v. British Columbia'', the Court made the following observations:
The right to bargain collectively with an employer enhances the human dignity, liberty and autonomy of workers by giving them the opportunity to influence the establishment of workplace rules and thereby gain some control over a major aspect of their lives, namely their work… Collective bargaining is not simply an instrument for pursuing external ends…rather is intrinsically valuable as an experience in self-government… Collective bargaining permits workers to achieve a form of
workplace democracy A workplace is a location where someone works for their employer, a place of employment Employment is a relationship between two party (law), parties, usually based on employment contract, contract where work is paid for, where one party, wh ...
and to ensure the rule of law in the workplace. Workers gain a voice to influence the establishment of rules that control a major aspect of their lives.

Empirical findings

* Union members and other workers covered by
collective agreement A collective agreement, collective labour agreement (CLA) or collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is a written contract negotiated through collective bargaining Collective bargaining is a process of negotiation between employers and a group of e ...
s get, on average, a wage markup over their nonunionized (or uncovered) counterparts. Such a markup is typically 5 to 10 percent in industrial countries. * Unions tend to equalize the
income distribution In economics Economics () is a social science that studies the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the behaviour ...
, especially between skilled and unskilled workers. * The welfare loss associated with unions is 0.2 to 0.5 percent of
GDP Gross domestic product (GDP) is a monetary Image:National-Debt-Gillray.jpeg, In a 1786 James Gillray caricature, the plentiful money bags handed to King George III are contrasted with the beggar whose legs and arms were amputated, in the ...
, which is similar to
monopolies A monopoly (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxi ...

in product markets. * An empirical model for empirical analysis and computer-assisted collective bargaining is developed at the
Hans Böckler Foundation Hans may refer to: *Hans (name) Hans is a Germanic languages, Germanic masculine given name in German language, German, Danish language, Danish, Dutch language, Dutch, Estonian language, Estonian, Faroese language, Faroese, Norwegian language, Nor ...


In Sweden the coverage of collective agreements is very high despite the absence of legal mechanisms to extend agreements to whole industries. In 2018, 83% of all private sector employees were covered by collective agreements, 100% of public sector employees and in all 90% (referring to the whole labor market). This reflects the dominance of self-regulation (regulation by the labour market parties themselves) over state regulation in Swedish industrial relations.

United States

In the United States, the
National Labor Relations Act The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (also known as the Wagner Act) is a foundational statute of that guarantees the right of private sector employees to organize into s, engage in , and take such as s. Central to the act was a ban on s. Th ...

National Labor Relations Act
(1935) covers most collective agreements in the private sector. This act makes it illegal for employers to discriminate, spy on, harass, or terminate the employment of workers because of their union membership or to retaliate against them for engaging in organizing campaigns or other "concerted activities", to form
company union A company or "yellow" union is a worker organization which is dominated or influenced by an employer, and is therefore not an independent trade union. Company unions are contrary to international labour law (see ILO Convention 98, Article 2). They ...
s, or to refuse to engage in collective bargaining with the union that represents their employees. It is also illegal to require any employee to join a union as a condition of employment. Unions are also able to secure safe work conditions and equitable pay for their labor. At a workplace where a majority of workers have voted for union representation, a committee of employees and union representatives negotiate a contract with the management regarding wages, hours, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment, such as protection from termination of employment without just cause. Individual negotiation is prohibited. Once the workers' committee and management have agreed on a contract, it is then put to a vote of all workers at the workplace. If approved, the contract is usually in force for a fixed term of years, and when that term is up, it is then renegotiated between employees and management. Sometimes there are disputes over the union contract; this particularly occurs in cases of workers fired without just cause in a union workplace. These then go to arbitration, which is similar to an informal court hearing; a neutral arbitrator then rules whether the termination or other contract breach is extant, and if it is, orders that it be corrected. In 24 U.S. states, employees who are working in a unionized shop may be required to contribute towards the cost of representation (such as at disciplinary hearings) if their fellow employees have negotiated a union security clause in their contract with management. Dues are generally 1–2% of pay. However, union members and other workers covered by collective agreements get, on average, a 5-10% wage markup over their nonunionized (or uncovered) counterparts. Some states, especially in the south-central and south-eastern regions of the U.S., have outlawed union security clauses; this can cause controversy, as it allows some net beneficiaries of the union contract to avoid paying their portion of the costs of contract negotiation. Regardless of state, the Supreme Court has held that the Act prevents a person's union dues from being used without consent to fund political causes that may be opposed to the individual's personal politics. Instead, in states where union security clauses are permitted, such dissenters may elect to pay only the proportion of dues which go directly toward representation of workers. The American Federation of Labor was formed in 1886, providing unprecedented bargaining powers for a variety of workers.Illinois Labor History Society.
A Curriculum of United States Labor History for Teachers
''. Online at th
Illinois Labor History Society
. Retrieved on August 29, 2007.
The Railway Labor Act (1926) required employers to bargain collectively with unions. In 1931, the United States Supreme Court, Supreme Court, in the case of ''Texas & N.O.R. Co. v. Brotherhood of Railway Clerks'', upheld the act's prohibition of employer interference in the selection of bargaining representatives. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy, Kennedy signed an executive order giving public-employee unions the right to collectively bargain with federal government agencies. The Office of Labor-Management Standards, part of the United States Department of Labor, is required to collect all collective bargaining agreements covering 1,000 or more workers, excluding those involving railroads and airlines. They provide public access to these collections throug
their website


Only one in three OECD employees have wages which were agreed on through collective bargaining. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, with its 36 members, has become an outspoken proponent for collective bargaining as a way to ensure that the falling unemployment also leads to higher wages.

See also

* 11 U.S.C. § 1113 – Rejection of Collective Bargaining Agreements * 2011 United States public employee protests * 2011 Wisconsin protests, related to attempts to reduce or eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employee unions in Wisconsin * Boulwarism * Canadian labour law * Civic Openness In Negotiations * Enterprise bargaining agreement * Freedom of association * Labour economics * Labour law * Project Labor Agreement * Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 * Right-to-work law * Social corporatism * Solidarity economy * Surface bargaining * UK labour law * US labor law



* Buidens, Wayne, and others. "Collective Gaining: A Bargaining Alternative." ''Phi Delta Kappan'' 63 (1981): 244-245. * DeGennaro, William, and Kay Michelfeld. "Joint Committees Take the Rancor out of Bargaining with Our Teachers." ''The American School Board Journal'' 173 (1986): 38-39. * Herman, Jerry J. "With Collaborative Bargaining, You Work with the Union--Not Against It." ''The American School Board Journal'' 172 (1985): 41-42, 47. * Huber, Joe; and Jay Hennies. "Fix on These Five Guiding Lights, and Emerge from the Bargaining Fog." ''The American School Board Journal'' 174 (1987): 31. * Kjellberg, Anders (2019
"Sweden: collective bargaining under the industry norm"
in Torsten Müller & Kurt Vandaele & Jeremy Waddington (eds.) ''Collective bargaining in Europe: towards an endgame'', European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) Brussels 2019. Vol. III (pp. 583-604). * Liontos, Demetri. Collaborative Bargaining: Case Studies and Recommendations. Eugene: Oregon School Study Council, University of Oregon, September 1987. ''OSSC Bulletin Series''. 27 pages. ED number not yet assigned. * McMahon, Dennis O. "Getting to Yes." Paper presented at the annual conference of the American Association of School Administrators, New Orleans, LA, February 20–23, 1987. ED 280 188. * Namit, Chuck; and Larry Swift. "Prescription for Labor Pains: Combine Bargaining with Problem Solving." ''The American School Board Journal'' 174 (1987): 24. * Nyland, Larry. "Win/Win Bargaining Takes Perseverance." ''The Executive Educator'' 9 (1987): 24. * * Smith, Patricia; and Russell Baker. "An Alternative Form of Collective Bargaining." ''Phi Delta Kappan'' 67 (1986): 605-607. * Alberta Human Rights Act, RSA 2000, c A-25 * Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms * Donnelly, Jack. "Cultural and Universal Human Right". Human Right Quarterly 6(1984): 400-419 * Dunmore v. Ontario (Attorney General), [2001] 3 S.C.R. 1016, 2001 SCC 94 * Health Services and Support—Facilities Subcontractor Bargaining Assn. v. British Columbia, [2007] SCC 27, [2007] 2 S.C.R. 391 * Mathiesen, Kay. "labor laws on unionization and collective bargaining — comparative study". Journal of information Ethics. 3(2009):245-567. Print. * Sitati, Ezekiel. "Examining the development sin the labor laws". Melbournes Journal of politic 3(2009):55-74. Print * Ontario (Attorney General) v. Fraser, 2011 SCC 20 * Reference Re Public Service Employee Relations Act (Alberta), [1987] 1 S.C.R. 313

External links

Labor & Worklife Program at Harvard Law school

* [http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cb/ Collective Bargaining, Labor Law, and Labor History at DigitalCommons@ILR]
Collective Bargaining Agreements at DigitalCommons@ILR

GVSU links to actual arbitration awards and collective bargaining resources
{{DEFAULTSORT:Collective Bargaining Austerity Collective agreements Labor relations Labor rights Industrial agreements Bargaining theory