Collective bargaining is the process by which an employer and a group of employees, usually through a union representative, enter into contract negotiations over wages, benefits, and working conditions. The contract that results from these negotiations is called a Collective Bargaining Agreement. If a union represents a group of employees, it is authorized to speak for employees and can bargain and even enter into a Collective Bargaining Agreement with or without employees’ approval.
Federal law dictates the collective bargaining process for federal unionized public sector workers and private sector workers, but state law determines the process for state and local public employees. Because of this, collective bargaining varies state by state. Examples of variations include the scope of what the parties can negotiate over and how disputes are resolved. Some states prohibit collective bargaining in the public sector altogether.