Labor Markets, Unions, and Government Policies

By Everett Johnson Burtt Jr. | Go to book overview

10 ■
COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AND UNION POLICIES

The Nature of Collective Bargaining

Collective bargaining is the joint determination and administration of wages and the terms of employment between a union representing the workers and the employer or representatives of a group of employers. It includes both the negotiation of a labor agreement (or contract) in which wages and other conditions and rules are agreed to and the administration and interpretation of those rules in day-to-day problems of the employment relationships between worker and employer. Employer "recognition" of the union as representative of the workers is a prerequisite to collective bargaining.

From one point of view collective bargaining is a means of settling the question of the price at which workers are employed, while from another viewpoint it is a system of industrial jurisprudence.1 It is clear that, though

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1
There are still other ways of viewing collective bargaining. John R. Commons' approach treats it as a form of industrial government by which the unions place limitations on the arbitrary actions of employers and hence increase the liberty of the individual worker. Related to this approach is Selig Perlman's concept of job control (discussed above, Ch. 6), in which collective bargaining amounts to a method of controlling scarce job opportunities through union rules. In contrast, Neil Chamberlain emphasizes that collective bargaining is an instrument of management. His view is that various managerial functions are implicit in a firm, and that collective bargaining is a device whereby these objectives are carried out. This does not mean that the union has control of the managerial functions nor that management has abdicated its functions. See Neil W. Chamberlain, Collective Bargaining ( New York, McGraw-Hill, 1951), pp. 130ff.

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