collective bargaining

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collective bargaining,

in labor relations, procedure whereby an employer or employers agree to discuss the conditions of work by bargaining with representatives of the employees, usually a labor union. Its purpose may be either a discussion of the terms and conditions of employment (wages, work hours, job safety, or job security) or a consideration of the collective relations between both sides (the right to organize workers, recognition of a union, or a guarantee of no reprisals against the workers if a strike has occurred). The merits of collective bargaining have been argued by both opponents and proponents of the process; the former maintain that it deprives the worker of his individual liberty to dispose of his service, while the latter point out that without the union's protection the worker is subject to the dictation of the employer. As an essential process in labor relations, collective bargaining was first developed in Great Britain in the 19th cent. It has since become an accepted practice in most Western countries with a high level of industrialization. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935, known as the Wagner Act, established the right to collective bargaining in the United States.


See G. Farmer, Collective Bargaining in Transition (2 vol., 1967); J. S. Fishkin, The Limits of Obligation (1983); E. E. Herman et al., Collective Bargaining and Labor Relations (2d ed. 1987); J. P. Windmuller et al., Collective Bargaining in Industrialized Market Economies (1987).

collective bargaining

the negotiations about terms and conditions of employment which take place between an employer, or an employers association, and one or more TRADE UNIONS. Sociological interest in collective bargaining has involved, for example, consideration of the implications it has for the structure, aims and accomplishments of trade unions, the relations between managers and employees, and the dynamics of capitalist society; an underlying theme being the extent to which it is associated with the institutionalization of conflict and, relatedly, the separation of economic and political issues (see POSTCAPITALISM, INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS).

collective bargaining

[kə′lek·tiv ′bär·gən·iŋ]
(industrial engineering)
The negotiation for mutual agreement in the settlement of a labor contract between an employer or his representatives and a labor union or its representatives.
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