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You are a supervisor in a small manufacturing plant. The union contract covering most of your employees is about to expire. How do you prepare for union contract negotiations?
Union Contract workers must prove to the Federal Government that there is substantial interest among the employees to have an election. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) requires that at least 30% of the employees sign "authorization cards" before they will conduct an election. These cards care not seen by the employer.
When a majority of employees have signed cards, they will file a petition with the NLRB, requesting that a secret ballot election be held in your workplace. When they file the petition, they will specify which groups they feel should be included in the vote, and which groups of employees should be excluded. As a manager if we don't agree with the "unit" employers have requested, we may ask that the NLRB conduct a hearing and determine which employees would be allowed to vote in the election. Then an agent from the NLRB will conduct a secret ballot election in the workplace. Management is not allowed near the voting area, and employees do not put their names on the ballot. When the election is over, the Board Agent will count the ballots, and if the Union has received a majority of the votes. The employer here is required by law to bargain a contract in good faith. Each employee has the opportunity to contribute ideas for the contract. They decide which issues should be addressed (wages, health care benefits, scheduling, etc). When the contract has been negotiated, employees vote whether to accept it or not. Only after they have voted to accept a contract they begin to pay the union dues.
Contract negotiations are at the very heart of what a union does and is. The union contract determines the wages, benefits and work conditions that members have; it is the concrete outcome of the union's efforts to improve the lives of its members. Preparations for negotiations must begin months before the old contract expires. What the union asks for at the bargaining table is determined by the input members give when they are asked what they would like to see in the next contract. During negotiations, the union bargaining committee reports back to members in the shop on the process. When negotiators have reached an agreement and the union representatives think that it's the best contract offer they can achieve, all members of the shop get to vote on the ...
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"When a majority of employees have signed cards, they will file a petition with the NLRB, requesting that a secret ballot election be held in your workplace. When they file the petition, they will..."