1. Part 1: Negotiatin’ Like It’s 1999

  2. Part 2: Why Is Everyone So Down On Child Labor

  3. Part 3: Who Needs a Pension When You Can Have a Pizza Party (or Piñata)

What is Collective Bargaining?

For years, not many people talked about collective bargaining. But that changed when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Republican politicians in a dozen other states decided to eliminate the right to bargain collectively from public employees. Instantly, working people in all kinds of jobs as well as students, community supporters, faith leaders and others united to defend this basic right.

And why is it so important? Because the right to come together for a voice on the job is not only a fundamental right, it is essential for working men and women to have the strength to improve their living standards, provide for their families and build an American middle class. Collective bargaining enables working people who are union members to negotiate with their employers to determine their terms of employment, including pay, benefits, hours, leave, job health and safety policies, ways to balance work and family and more. Bottom line: It gives working people a voice at the table.

From AFL-CIO Blog

Proposed Georgia Law Makes Picketing Illegal, Sit-Downs a Felony

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Some Georgia lawmakers want to make legitimate union picketing and other common protest activities felonies that not only could result in one-year jail terms but up to $10,000 in fines. The bill, S.B. 469, would clamp down on free speech and workers’ rights in several ways. First, it would outlaw picketing outside the home of a Read More

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Real-Life Examples of Collective Bargaining

The registered nurses of Tufts Medical Center, members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, ratified a new contract in May 2011, that makes important staffing changes to improve patient care, including additional staff in busy areas and limits on nurses’ patient assignments.

Teaching assistants at the University of California saw their amount of child care assistance nearly triple after their last round of collective bargaining. The members of UAW Local 2865 are now eligible for up to $2,400 in child care assistance each year and the program was expanded to cover the summer.

UAW Local 2121 negotiated a first contract for casino dealers at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut that established numerous job safety provisions, including programs to reduce repetitive stress injuries, an extension of medical leave time and smoke-free tables.

United Steelworkers (USW) has successfully negotiated several provisions to improve safety on the job for workers at ArcelorMittal at 14 plants in eight states. In addition to on-site union health and safety representatives and a union safety committee, USW negotiated an increase in the minimum number of safety training hours per worker as well as an agreement by the company to provide flame-resistant clothing.

Collective Bargaining Fact Sheet

Collective bargaining gives working people who are union members the ability to negotiate with employers to determine their terms of employment, including pay, benefits, hours, leave, job health and safety policies, ways to balance work and family and more.

Union employees choose who will represent them in bargaining sessions with the employer, and vote to accept or reject the contract reached by the employer and employee bargaining committees. A ratified contract legally binds both sides—management and workers—to the contract terms.

In the United States, about three quarters of private-sector workers and two-thirds of public employees have the right tocollective bargaining. This right came to U.S. workers through a series of laws. The U.S. Constitution ensures our freedom of association. The RailwayLabor Act granted collective bargaining to railroad workers in 1926 and nowcovers many transportation workers, such as those in airlines. In 1935, theNational Labor Relations Act (NLRA) clarified the bargaining rights of mostother private-sector workers and established collective bargaining as the “policy of the United States.” The right to collective bargaining also is recognized by international human rights conventions.

Every year, about 30,000 collective bargaining agreements are negotiated. Today, 7.9 million private-sector workers and 8.4 million public-sector workers are covered by collective bargaining agreements.

What Happened in Wisconsin?

After the 2010 elections placed many state legislatures and governorships in Republican control, a number of these newly elected officials moved to take collective bargaining rights away from public employees.

That’s what happened in Wisconsin, prompting working people from all walks of life to take part in massive protests and launch recall campaigns to unseat legislators who voted for Gov. Scott Walker’s attack on bargaining rights.

It wasn’t just Wisconsin. Similar measures came up in Ohio and a dozen other states. Walker and others behind these attacksclaimed it was necessary to limit collective bargaining to curb spending and arrest state budget problems. But, especially as these politicians proposeddraconian cuts to services for working families,  it quickly became clear that they were in fact attempts to limit the power of working people, balance budgets on the backs of working families and deliver political pay-back to corporate and wealthy campaign contributors.

And working people—in the private sector as well as government employees—united to defend this basic human right at work.