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CBA Components

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Labor Relations

  • Format: Self-paced
  • Course Duration: 1 hr 42 mins
  • SHRM Professional Development Credits: 1.50
  • HRCI General Recertification Credits: 1.75
  • Certificate of Completion (after passing quiz)

The day has come…union officials are now able to represent your employees. The workforce voted to unionize! Now what? Taking on the task of developing and maintaining a collective bargaining agreement is nothing to fear! This course is for HR professionals who need to understand the basics of a collective bargaining agreement process and its enforcement in the United States. The lessons will provide an introduction to the world of U.S. labor relations including a review of specific terms and labor law. Labor relations is a fun topic but it could be a little scary for those who are new to it. Take this course and put your mind at ease.

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Title: CBA Components
Module: Collective Bargaining Introduction
Duration: 7:27

There are many important components or clauses in a collective bargaining agreement. First, is recognition. The recognition clause spells out who is in the union and who is not It will state who the union and the management recognizes as being a part of the union. It states who is represented by the union and that the union has the sole discretion to represent these people. It also states who is excluded from the collective bargaining agreement.

The next clause is management rights. It states that they have the right to run the business, move the business, direct the workforce, to discipline and discharge for just cause. If there’s a violation, management will reference this clause and make the argument that they have the right to do what they have to do. It’s built into the collective bargaining agreement to start the dialogue where a union feels they were violated in one area and management feels they have the right to do this.

The union security and check off is another key clause. Union security refers to the rights of union members and the rights of the union in representing the workplace. It includes what they are allowed and not allowed to do.

In the contract there could be an article that highlights the Job Steward's role, how they are elected or appointed. There's a clause or section that discusses no strikes, no lock outs.

There are two economic weapons used in a collective bargaining agreement. The union has the right to strike if they feel they're not being represented properly by management. This is outside the collective bargaining agreement if they are negotiating a contract or the contract expired, they have a right to strike.

Management's economic weapon is locking out their employees if they're in contract negotiations. If there's no agreement or the contract expires, during the life of a contract there is normally an article that states, during the duration of the agreement, the union agrees not to strike and management agrees not to lock out their employees.

For example, if there’s a four-year agreement, for the life of the four years, there won't be any strikes or a lockout. There could be a clause that gives the union the right to picket or leaflet.

The discharge and suspensions clause. This constitutes management’s ability to suspend somebody or discharge them if they have just cause.

Seniority has its own clause in the agreement. It defines who gets seniority, how seniority works and who loses it. For example, if an employee is on an unapproved leave of absence or they abandon their job, such as a no call, no show, there’s a specific timeframe in which one can lose their seniority.

How payroll works. This clause defines the work week, when it starts and when it ends. And when is pay day.

Wages and hours along with how overtime is given. This article defines pay differentials, like the difference between being paid to work 1st, 2nd or 3rd shifts. On 2nd shift, the employee may be given $.10 more/hour and if they work 3rd shift, they are given $.25 more/hour. This is an article that will walk through all of those shift payment differences.

Holidays are specifically defined in the contract. It spells out how many holidays an employee gets in a given year. What's interesting is you might see a change in the number of holidays during the life of a 4-year contract. In year one, an employee might get 8 holidays. In year two it might increase to 10 and go back down again to 8 in year 3. It’s all negotiated. The employee might get time and a half for working the holiday. If they go down to 8 holidays, the employee might get a half of those. This is the economic reason for the ebb and flow of how many holidays are in a Collective Bargaining Agreement. It's important union members see what they're getting even if there's a decrease in holidays as long as they agree with it.

The next article is vacation. It defines how many days the employee receives based on the number of years worked for the company. It’s no different than an employee handbook. If an employee is employed 0 to 4 years, they might get one week of vacation. 5 to 9 years, they receive two weeks of vacation. It also includes carry over vacation. A seniority clause could be tied to the vacation too. Not everybody can take vacation at the same time so it might have to be based on seniority.

Bereavement leave. This defines how the company will handle someone’s passing away. Who's covered? If it's a father, mother, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, children, or grandparents. Believe it or not I've seen pets that were put into bereavement leave. The clause also tells employees how much time they have off.

The injury on the job clause defines how an employee is treated, where they go to receive treatment and how pay is worked out during this time.

The severance clause is associated to being laid off. It determines how much time you are being paid for. There’s also effects bargaining clause associated to a massive layoff. It dictates that the union will meet with management to discuss the effects of the massive layoffs and what other benefits could be negotiated during that process.

Health and welfare is another key clause. Under the Taft Hartley law, which we’ll discuss in greater detail in a subsequent lesson, there are Taft Hartley Plans in which management pays an hourly payment to the union. The union will then manage the health and welfare benefits for their members.

If not, then the article will define how health and welfare will be given for the life of the contract. Usually HR professionals know how tricky handling health insurance can be and we don't know the increase to cost from year to year. However, healthcare is negotiated in a contract. It might be specifically spelled out what the employees are going to be given for the life of the contract. Union members like to see this because they can control the cost of what's coming out of their pocket each year with health insurance.

Pensions are very important as well. We're starting to see pensions decline in bargaining agreements. However, there is still a large majority of agreements that represent articles about pensions including how people will be paid when they retire and what the employer pays on an hourly timeframe towards the employee’s pension.

Finally, there are other articles called exhibits in the collective bargaining agreement that summarize job descriptions and wages.


Instructor: Matthew Kerzner

As an accomplished professional with over 20 plus years of practice in all facets of organizational operations, Matthew’s expertise includes training and development, labor relations, and organizational development, in addition to the recruitment and selection of competent human capital.

Matthew graduated from Nichols College, with a BA in Industrial Organizational Psychology; and also obtained both an...

Matthew's Full Bio

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