We are skilled at the Art of Collective Bargaining
Helping employers understand their duties and strategies when negotiating with unions
Collective bargaining negotiations are different from general negotiations that take place in business transaction negotiations and litigation. Statutes, such as the National Labor Relations Act, the Railway Labor Act, and The Civil Service Reform Act, govern negotiations between an employer and a union. States have their own set of statutes that govern negotiations with state and local government personnel.
Collective bargaining refers to negotiation between workers, through their union, and employers about the terms and conditions of employment. The end result is a formal collective bargaining agreement that defines the terms and conditions of employment, including wages, hours, benefits, grievances, and work conditions. At Gertsburg Licata, our Cleveland collective bargaining attorneys have the experience and skills to calmly guide employers through the collective bargaining process. Our lawyers serve as advisors, consultants, and, when needed, chief negotiators.
How experienced collective bargaining lawyers help
Our collective bargaining attorneys provide the following services, among others:
- Determine the bargaining goals and bottom lines
- Draft initial proposals and changes to those proposals
- Understand and explain the importance of asserting the rights of the employers and management
- Analyze the proposals from the union to determine strengths and weaknesses and what counter proposals should be made
- Review the actual costs of the proposals
- Suggest viable alternatives
- Determine the priorities for the items being negotiated — where can the company compromise or trade-off, and where must it anchor its position
- Create an overall negotiating strategy before the negotiations start
We also manage public relations with the employees, the union, the shareholders, and the media. We understand that after the agreement is reached, the employees, union, management, and the officers must all be able to work together for the good of the company.
Standard collective bargaining issues
Our collective bargaining lawyers work with our business clients to address the following negotiation issues:
- Authorization. A union cannot negotiate until it has the approval of a majority of its workers.
- Strikes. Workers do not have to strike to force collective bargaining. Most times, the reverse is true. Employers and unions try to resolve their differences in advance of any strike deadlines. The strike deadline puts pressure on both sides to reach an agreement. If a strike occurs, then work performance stops until the issues are negotiated or until the employer makes legal alternative arrangements. Private workers generally have the right to strike. Most federal, state, and local government workers cannot strike — though there are exceptions.
- Duty to bargain in good faith. Both sides must bargain in good faith. Signs of bad faith include if either side fails to compromise at all on a single issue or fails to put forth any proposal at all.
- Duty of the employer to supply information. During the collective bargaining process, the employer has a duty to provide information that backs up its positions. For example, if it claims that wage hikes or medical insurance are unaffordable, the union can demand to see employer documentation that supports that claim and current records of salaries and benefit costs.
- Which items must be negotiated. While not every work-related item has to be negotiated, core items, such as wages, work hours, work rules, and the procedures for termination of workers, must be discussed. Employers who do not bargain properly may be accused of an unfair labor practice. Which items must be discussed is not perfectly clear. They can fluctuate depending on background issues, such as whether the employer wants to close or move a facility. At Gertsburg Licata, our attorneys explain what items employers must negotiate.
- Duty to consult with the union. Employers cannot make broad work-related changes to a collective bargaining agreement without consulting with the union. We explain what actions the employer can and cannot take.
Lawyers and employers need to be aware of the relevant laws that apply to the negotiations. They must also be adept at the complexities of labor negotiations. Turn to our firm for help with collective bargaining.
Plan and strategize collective bargaining negotiations by reviewing your work contracts with professional labor attorneys
The right collective bargaining agreement can make or break a business. Give too much and the expenses and administrative costs can cause a company to fail. Give too little and the best workers may leave the company or strike. At Gertsburg Licata, we understand this delicate balance. We have the skills to help companies negotiate fair and reasonable contracts. To prepare your company for its next round of collective bargaining negotiations, please call 216-573-6000 to speak with an experienced business attorney. You can also make an appointment through our contact form.