To improve working conditions and protect their economic status, workers engage in collective bargaining through their labor unions. Many rules govern this vital process, and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) requires employers to bargain in good faith. But what exactly does this mean?
Employer Obligations and Duties for Bargaining in Good Faith
Generally speaking, “good faith” means bargaining honestly and sincerely. In the context of collective bargaining, this entails:
- Making a genuine effort to reach agreements with union representatives on mandatory subjects of bargaining, such as wages, hours, and working conditions;
- Holding bargaining sessions at reasonable times and intervals;
- Providing relevant information to the union, when requested;
- Signing a collective bargaining agreement reached with the union;
- Refraining from making changes to mandatory subjects of bargaining, unless the union approves;
- Communicating with union representatives instead of individual employees; and
- Abstaining from threatening or coercing labor reps or employees
Employers who violate their duty to engage in these and other good-faith bargaining practices with union representatives can face penalties from the National Labor Relations Board.
Changes to Employer Obligations and Duties
Yes, collective bargaining regulations change over time. For instance, recently, Local 24 requested the NLRB reinstate a rule requiring employers to bargain with unions when a majority of the employees supported bargaining.
The request comes in light of a strike involving baristas and cooks at a Detroit coffee establishment. According to union representatives, the employer’s delay in engaging in bargaining is an attempt to discourage their employees’ efforts to unionize. In other words, the employer has failed to bargain in good faith.
The NLRB has not yet decided Local 24’s motion, however, it will be interesting to see whether the NLRB will restore the former rule.
What to Do if an Employer Fails to Bargain in Good Faith
Negotiating collective bargaining agreements can be a complicated and contentious process, particularly when it involves allegations that employers are not bargaining in good faith.
Regardless of these complications however, efforts to collectively bargain should not cost employees fair and lawful resolutions. Employees should therefore understand what good faith bargaining requires in order to better navigate this complex situation and call out employers who violate the law.
Employees and union representatives who believe an employer has failed to engage in good faith bargaining should contact an attorney at Miller Cohen PLC to discuss what options are available to them to ensure workers’ rights are not trampled on.