Once a Union is formed, the Union members participate in what is called collective bargaining. Collective bargaining involves a negotiation with the employer regarding certain working conditions such as wages, vacation time, insurance, hours of work, subcontracting, relocation and/or other working conditions. Some topics of negotiation may not be mandatory, however, there will be core subject matter that will need to be negotiated (such as wages and hourly pay). Unions follow very specific rules regarding collective bargaining and penalize any Party for refusing to engage in collective bargaining. Such behavior can lead to an unfair labor practice claim.
For collective bargaining, the Parties (the employer and the Union) are required to meet to negotiate the above-mentioned working condition specifics with regard to employment. While the Parties cannot refuse to discuss a particular subject matter, there may be what’s called an “impasse.” An impasse can only occur after a good faith effort has been made to negotiate and settle the issues and/or topics scheduled for the collective bargaining. One Party or the other may claim that an impasse has not occurred and in that case the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) would get involved and determine if an impasse has in fact occurred or not. One aspect of the collective bargaining the National Labor Relations Board looks at is prior negotiations and the understandings of the Parties. If an impasse has not in fact occurred, then there could be a labor board violation against the offending party (typically the employer). However, the National Labor Relations Board may require the Parties to continue the negotiation and in extreme cases may seek a federal court order forcing the negotiation by the employer.
If you or someone you know has a potential employment law claim and/or questions regarding your rights, contact the attorneys of The Ticktin Law Group for a complimentary consultation.