How Does Bargaining Work?

How Does
Bargaining Work?

It can be difficult to understand what it takes to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement. Here’s an overview to help you understand each essential step in the process.

The negotiator calls for proposals

  • Your union negotiator sends out a letter with firm deadlines, asking members to submit proposals.
  • Members share any ideas they have that will improve their workplace or contract.
  • Proposals cannot be accepted after the deadline.

Your union forms its bargaining committee

  • Union members from your workplace will join the committee through appointment or election.
  • The committee reviews proposals and forms a proposal package that will be presented to your employer at the start of bargaining.

Your union and your employer begin bargaining

  • On the first day of bargaining, your committee and employer exchange all proposals.
  • The committee and your employer meet multiple times to discuss which proposals should end up in the new contract.
  • Bargaining can take days or months depending on the amount of proposals, and how much we disagree with each other’s proposals.

You may have a strike vote

  • Not every round of bargaining involves a strike vote.
  • A strike vote can happen any time during bargaining. However, you only get to take one strike vote.
  • You are voting on whether or not you are giving your committee a strike mandate. Voting yes to a strike mandate gives your committee the ability to apply more pressure on your employer.
  • A majority strike vote does not automatically mean you will go on strike. The bargaining committee will use the strike mandate vote as a pressure tactic to get you a better offer to vote on.

You attend a ratification meeting to vote

  • If both sides come to a tentative agreement, or if the employer has given a final offer, you’ll be invited to a meeting to hear the details and vote.
  • The bargaining committee will often make a recommendation to accept or reject this agreement.

If the majority ACCEPTS the agreement…

The agreement is ratified and you have a new, enforceable contract!

If the majority REJECTS the agreement…

One of three things happen:

  • your committee decides to send a new counter-offer,
  • we go on strike,
  • or we are locked out.