Collective bargaining is a process of negotiations between employers and the representatives of a unit of employees
aimed at reaching agreements which regulate working conditions. Collective agreements usually set out wage scales,
working hours, training, health and safety, overtime, grievance mechanisms and rights to participate in workplace or company affairs.
The union may negotiate with a single employer (who is typically representing a company's shareholders) or may negotiate with a federation of businesses, to reach an industry wide agreement. A collective agreement functions as a labor contract between an employer and one or more unions. The parties often refer to the result of the negotiation as a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) or as a collective employment agreement (CEA).
The right to collectively bargain is recognized through international human rights conventions. Article 23 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights identifies the ability to organize trade unions as a fundamental human right:
The right to bargain collectively with an employer enhances the human dignity, liberty and autonomy of workers by giving them the opportunity to influence the establishment of workplace rules and thereby gain some control over a major aspect of their lives, namely their work. Further, collective bargaining permits workers to achieve a form of workplace democracy and to ensure the rule of law in the workplace.
In 1962, President Kennedy signed an executive order giving public-employee unions the right to collectively bargain with federal government agencies.
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