As a resident of New Hampshire, you may have heard the term “collective bargaining agreement” thrown around in conversations about labor relations. But what exactly does it mean, and why is it important?
A collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is a contract negotiated between a union and an employer that outlines the terms and conditions of employment for workers covered by the agreement. CBAs typically cover topics such as wages, benefits, hours of work, and working conditions. In New Hampshire, CBAs are governed by the Public Employee Labor Relations Act (PELRA), which sets out the rules and procedures for negotiating and enforcing these agreements.
One of the main benefits of CBAs is that they give workers a voice in their own employment. By negotiating as a group, workers are able to secure better wages, benefits, and working conditions than they might be able to on their own. In addition, CBAs provide a stable framework for labor-management relations, reducing the likelihood of disputes or work stoppages.
In New Hampshire, public employees have the right to bargain collectively with their employers. This includes state employees, municipal employees, and employees of school districts and other public bodies. However, some public employees are excluded from coverage under PELRA, such as police officers and firefighters, who are covered by a separate law.
Negotiating a CBA can be a complex and time-consuming process. Typically, the union will select a bargaining team to represent workers in negotiations with the employer. Both sides will present their proposals and try to reach a compromise on the terms of the agreement. If an agreement is reached, it must be ratified by both the union membership and the employer before it can take effect.
Once a CBA is in place, it is important to ensure that it is enforced properly. If either party believes that the other has violated the agreement, they can file a grievance and seek resolution through the arbitration process. This may involve hiring a neutral third party to hear both sides and make a binding decision.
In recent years, there have been some efforts to limit the power of unions and weaken the collective bargaining process. However, the right to bargain collectively remains a fundamental principle of labor law in New Hampshire and across the United States. By working together, workers can achieve greater economic security and a stronger voice in the workplace.