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Guidance

Presentation Audience

GC Collective Bargaining Resources

Section 1 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) provides that it is the policy of the United States to encourage the practice and procedure of collective bargaining. Collective bargaining is a process by which a labor organization, designated or selected by a majority of an employer’s employees, negotiates on behalf of employees with the employer over wages and other terms and conditions of employment (like health and safety, working hours, leave, anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, and health insurance).

Once a majority of employees have designated or selected a labor organization to collectively bargain on their behalf, both employers and labor organizations have a duty to bargain in good faith. The duty to bargain in good faith requires, among other things, that the parties meet at reasonable times and places. Often, the parties can agree on reasonable times and places (which can be in-person or through video conferencing) but if not, the NLRB will use a totality of the circumstances analysis to determine whether parties are violating their duty to bargain in good faith. While the NLRA does not compel either party to agree to a proposal or to make a concession, the parties are required to have a sincere purpose to find a basis of agreement and make serious attempts to resolve differences and reach common ground.

Whether you are negotiating for a first contract, or negotiating a successor contract, there are resources to assist you in the collective bargaining process.

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) is an independent agency whose mission is to preserve and promote labor-management peace and cooperation. FMCS provides a range of services that can be helpful through many different phases of a collective bargaining relationship, all of which are provided free of charge.

  • FMCS provides mediation services, which can assist parties during initial contract bargaining or for successor contracts. You can contact an FMCS mediator here or by emailing clientservices@fmcs.gov.
  • FMCS provides extensive training on how to engage in productive collective bargaining and contract administration, including on collaborative contract negotiation, conflict resolution, labor-management partnership building, and other important skills. You can learn about FMCS training here.
  • FMCS accepts the notices that are required under the Section 8(d) of the NLRA. You can file the F-7 form here. Please note that the FMCS does not notify State or Territorial agencies, which Section 8(d) of the NLRA also requires. Parties are directly responsible for contacting a State or Territorial agency as required under Section 8(d). NLRB adjudicators have strictly applied this requirement even where the applicable state agency had no jurisdiction or did not generally take action upon receiving the notice.

The NLRB and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have collaborated on a resource called Building Safe & Healthy Workplaces that Promote Worker Voice which provides tools and key references for employers and workers on working collaboratively to create and maintain safe workplaces, including resources on collective bargaining and compliance.

The Office of Labor-Management Standards has a Labor Management Partnership Program which highlights examples of, and demonstrates the importance of having, employers and workers joining together and working collaboratively to address complex organizational issues.

Additional resources can be found in the Small Business Administration’s Digital Toolkit to Empower Workers and Promote Benefits of Equitable Labor-Management Partnerships