Sunday, June 17, 2012

Why Collective Bargaining Rights Are Important

Collective bargaining rights and organizing have been *in the news more this year than usual, marking successes, failures, challenges but also, to be hoped, renewed interest and public support. Time to revisit basics, whether introduction or refresher. Addenda welcome: alternatives; questions; comments; alternate views. 

What is collective bargaining and why is it so important? Or better yet, why should you care? This question has come up frequently over the past year due to all the press surrounding recent actions by politicians who have passed or attempted to pass legislation to strip collective bargaining rights from public sector employees. What has been missing from the discussion is an actual explanation and understanding of the concept of collective bargaining.

So let’s start with the basics.
The definition of collective bargaining is when a group of employees negotiate as a unit with their employer over pay, benefits and working conditions. The principle stems from the idea that as a group, employees have more strength or bargaining power if they collaborate than they do if they try to negotiate with their employer individually. Because of its basis in collaboration, collective bargaining is inherently a democratic process since a majority of employees select the subjects they bargain over and vote on whether they agree to a contract.

As for what can be negotiated, aside from compensation, a collective bargaining agreement with an employer can ensure a fair performance rating system; whistleblower protection; job flexibility; proper training and/or mentoring; career advancement opportunities; maintenance of quality control; and the overall ability to hold the employer accountable.

What has also been missing from the discussion is the fact that collective bargaining is often considered to be a fundamental human right, and in the United States, is a legal right that gives employees -- professionals included -- the ability to create changes and find solutions with their employer. Furthermore, bargaining collectively is beneficial to the economy and to society as a whole as it helps to promote an ownership society that empowers its citizens.

A Human Right

 Download or read the rest of Why Collective Bargaining Rights Are Important online, an article by Chris Langfordstrategist and organizer at the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), a labor union that represents professional and skilled employees throughout the United States and Canada. More Labor Policy articles at EPI (Economic Policy Institute)

*In the news (and each deserving their own separate posts, even series): 

Wisconsin; new highered fac unions forming; Duquesne U adjuncts organizing with USW (contested ~ again, uni seeking exemption on religious grounds) + other Pittsburgh adjuncts talking to USW; Kaplan ESL teachers in NYC organizing with the Newspaper Guild; United Campus Workers (faculty and staff) in Tennessee; ongoing (forever, it seems like) discussion of single vs separate units for faculty; Occupy and Quebec student protests as energizers; COCAL X; International Student Movement (ISM); overwhelming CSU strike vote for rolling strike across state campuses... and much more.

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