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Introduction to Business

8.7 The Labor Relations Process

Introduction to Business8.7 The Labor Relations Process
  1. Preface
  2. 1 Understanding Economic Systems and Business
    1. Introduction
    2. 1.1 The Nature of Business
    3. 1.2 Understanding the Business Environment
    4. 1.3 How Business and Economics Work
    5. 1.4 Macroeconomics: The Big Picture
    6. 1.5 Achieving Macroeconomic Goals
    7. 1.6 Microeconomics: Zeroing in on Businesses and Consumers
    8. 1.7 Competing in a Free Market
    9. 1.8 Trends in the Business Environment and Competition
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  3. 2 Making Ethical Decisions and Managing a Socially Responsible Business
    1. Introduction
    2. 2.1 Understanding Business Ethics
    3. 2.2 How Organizations Influence Ethical Conduct
    4. 2.3 Managing a Socially Responsible Business
    5. 2.4 Responsibilities to Stakeholders
    6. 2.5 Trends in Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    9. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    10. Ethics Activity
    11. Working the Net
    12. Critical Thinking Case
    13. Hot Links Address Book
  4. 3 Competing in the Global Marketplace
    1. Introduction
    2. 3.1 Global Trade in the United States
    3. 3.2 Why Nations Trade
    4. 3.3 Barriers to Trade
    5. 3.4 Fostering Global Trade
    6. 3.5 International Economic Communities
    7. 3.6 Participating in the Global Marketplace
    8. 3.7 Threats and Opportunities in the Global Marketplace
    9. 3.8 The Impact of Multinational Corporations
    10. 3.9 Trends in Global Competition
    11. Key Terms
    12. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    13. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    14. Ethics Activity
    15. Working the Net
    16. Critical Thinking Case
    17. Hot Links Address Book
  5. 4 Forms of Business Ownership
    1. Introduction
    2. 4.1 Going It Alone: Sole Proprietorships
    3. 4.2 Partnerships: Sharing the Load
    4. 4.3 Corporations: Limiting Your Liability
    5. 4.4 Specialized Forms of Business Organization
    6. 4.5 Franchising: A Popular Trend
    7. 4.6 Mergers and Acquisitions
    8. 4.7 Trends in Business Ownership
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    11. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    12. Ethics Activity
    13. Working the Net
    14. Critical Thinking Case
    15. Hot Links Address Book
  6. 5 Entrepreneurship: Starting and Managing Your Own Business
    1. Introduction
    2. 5.1 Entrepreneurship Today
    3. 5.2 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs
    4. 5.3 Small Business: Driving America's Growth
    5. 5.4 Ready, Set, Start Your Own Business
    6. 5.5 Managing a Small Business
    7. 5.6 Small Business, Large Impact
    8. 5.7 The Small Business Administration
    9. 5.8 Trends in Entrepreneurship and Small-Business Ownership
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  7. 6 Management and Leadership in Today's Organizations
    1. Introduction
    2. 6.1 The Role of Management
    3. 6.2 Planning
    4. 6.3 Organizing
    5. 6.4 Leading, Guiding, and Motivating Others
    6. 6.5 Controlling
    7. 6.6 Managerial Roles
    8. 6.7 Managerial Skills
    9. 6.8 Trends in Management and Leadership
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  8. 7 Designing Organizational Structures
    1. Introduction
    2. 7.1 Building Organizational Structures
    3. 7.2 Contemporary Structures
    4. 7.3 Using Teams to Enhance Motivation and Performance
    5. 7.4 Authority—Establishing Organizational Relationships
    6. 7.5 Degree of Centralization
    7. 7.6 Organizational Design Considerations
    8. 7.7 The Informal Organization
    9. 7.8 Trends in Organizational Structure
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  9. 8 Managing Human Resources and Labor Relations
    1. Introduction
    2. 8.1 Achieving High Performance through Human Resources Management
    3. 8.2 Employee Recruitment
    4. 8.3 Employee Selection
    5. 8.4 Employee Training and Development
    6. 8.5 Performance Planning and Evaluation
    7. 8.6 Employee Compensation and Benefits
    8. 8.7 The Labor Relations Process
    9. 8.8 Managing Grievances and Conflicts
    10. 8.9 Legal Environment of Human Resources and Labor Relations
    11. 8.10 Trends in Human Resource Management and Labor Relations
    12. Key Terms
    13. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    14. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    15. Ethics Activity
    16. Working the Net
    17. Critical Thinking Case
    18. Hot Links Address Book
  10. 9 Motivating Employees
    1. Introduction
    2. 9.1 Early Theories of Motivation
    3. 9.2 The Hawthorne Studies
    4. 9.3 Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
    5. 9.4 McGregor's Theories X and Y
    6. 9.5 Herzberg's Motivator-Hygiene Theory
    7. 9.6 Contemporary Views on Motivation
    8. 9.7 From Motivation Theory to Application
    9. 9.8 Trends in Employee Motivation
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  11. 10 Achieving World-Class Operations Management
    1. Introduction
    2. 10.1 Production and Operations Management—An Overview
    3. 10.2 The Production Process: How Do We Make It?
    4. 10.3 Location, Location, Location: Where Do We Make It?
    5. 10.4 Pulling It Together: Resource Planning
    6. 10.5 Production and Operations Control
    7. 10.6 Looking for a Better Way: Improving Production and Operations
    8. 10.7 Transforming the Factory Floor with Technology
    9. 10.8 Trends in Production and Operations Management
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  12. 11 Creating Products and Pricing Strategies to Meet Customers' Needs
    1. Introduction
    2. 11.1 The Marketing Concept
    3. 11.2 Creating a Marketing Strategy
    4. 11.3 Developing a Marketing Mix
    5. 11.4 Buyer Behavior
    6. 11.5 Market Segmentation
    7. 11.6 What Is a Product?
    8. 11.7 Creating Products That Deliver Value
    9. 11.8 The Product Life Cycle
    10. 11.9 Pricing Strategies and Future Trends
    11. 11.10 Trends in Developing Products and Pricing
    12. Key Terms
    13. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    14. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    15. Ethics Activity
    16. Working the Net
    17. Critical Thinking Case
    18. Hot Links Address Book
  13. 12 Distributing and Promoting Products and Services
    1. Introduction
    2. 12.1 The Nature and Functions of Distribution (Place)
    3. 12.2 Wholesaling
    4. 12.3 The Competitive World of Retailing
    5. 12.4 Using Supply Chain Management to Increase Efficiency and Customer Satisfaction
    6. 12.5 Promotion Strategy
    7. 12.6 The Huge Impact of Advertising
    8. 12.7 The Importance of Personal Selling
    9. 12.8 Sales Promotion
    10. 12.9 Public Relations Helps Build Goodwill
    11. 12.10 Trends in Social Media
    12. 12.11 Trends in E-Commerce
    13. Key Terms
    14. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    15. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    16. Ethics Activity
    17. Working the Net
    18. Critical Thinking Case
    19. Hot Links Address Book
  14. 13 Using Technology to Manage Information
    1. Introduction
    2. 13.1 Transforming Businesses through Information
    3. 13.2 Linking Up: Computer Networks
    4. 13.3 Management Information Systems
    5. 13.4 Technology Management and Planning
    6. 13.5 Protecting Computers and Information
    7. 13.6 Trends in Information Technology
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    10. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    11. Ethics Activity
    12. Working the Net
    13. Critical Thinking Case
    14. Hot Links Address Book
  15. 14 Using Financial Information and Accounting
    1. Introduction
    2. 14.1 Accounting: More than Numbers
    3. 14.2 The Accounting Profession
    4. 14.3 Basic Accounting Procedures
    5. 14.4 The Balance Sheet
    6. 14.5 The Income Statement
    7. 14.6 The Statement of Cash Flows
    8. 14.7 Analyzing Financial Statements
    9. 14.8 Trends in Accounting
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  16. 15 Understanding Money and Financial Institutions
    1. Introduction
    2. 15.1 Show Me the Money
    3. 15.2 The Federal Reserve System
    4. 15.3 U.S. Financial Institutions
    5. 15.4 Insuring Bank Deposits
    6. 15.5 International Banking
    7. 15.6 Trends in Financial Institutions
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    10. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    11. Ethics Activity
    12. Working the Net
    13. Critical Thinking Case
    14. Hot Links Address Book
  17. 16 Understanding Financial Management and Securities Markets
    1. Introduction
    2. 16.1 The Role of Finance and the Financial Manager
    3. 16.2 How Organizations Use Funds
    4. 16.3 Obtaining Short-Term Financing
    5. 16.4 Raising Long-Term Financing
    6. 16.5 Equity Financing
    7. 16.6 Securities Markets
    8. 16.7 Buying and Selling at Securities Exchanges
    9. 16.8 Trends in Financial Management and Securities Markets
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  18. 17 Your Career in Business
    1. Introduction
    2. 17.1 Learn the Basics of Business
    3. 17.2 Developing Interpersonal Skills Is Key to Your Success
    4. 17.3 Make Your Future Happen: Learn to Plan
    5. 17.4 Going to College Is an Opportunity of a Lifetime—Never Drop Out
    6. 17.5 Get Your Career Off on the Right Track
    7. 17.6 Self-Test Scoring Guidelines
  19. A | Understanding the Legal and Tax Environment
  20. Index
  21. References
  1. What is a labor union and how is it organized, what is collective bargaining, and what are some of the key negotiation issues?

Tens of thousands of American firms are unionized, and millions of U.S. workers belong to unions. Historically, the mining, manufacturing, construction, and transportation industries have been significantly unionized, but in recent years, service-based firms, including health care organizations, have been unionized.

A labor union, such as the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, is an organization that represents workers in dealing with management over disputes involving wages, hours, and working conditions. The labor relations process that produces a union-management relationship consists of three phases: union organizing, negotiating a labor agreement, and administering the agreement. In phase one, a group of employees within a firm may form a union on their own, or an established union (United Auto Workers, for example) may target an employer and organize many of the firm’s workers into a local labor union. The second phase constitutes collective bargaining, which is the process of negotiating a labor agreement that provides for compensation and working arrangements mutually acceptable to the union and to management. Finally, the third phase of the labor relations process involves the daily administering of the labor agreement. This is done primarily through handling worker grievances and other workforce management problems that require interaction between managers and labor union officials.

The Modern Labor Movement

The basic structure of the modern labor movement consists of three parts: local unions, national and international unions, and union federations. There are approximately 60,000 local unions, 75 national and international unions, and two federations. Union membership has been declining over the past three decades and is now half what it once was. The number of employed union members has declined by 2.9 million since 1983, the first year union statistics were reported. In 1983, union membership was 20.1 percent of workers, with 17.7 million union workers. In 2017, membership declined to 10.7 percent of workers, with 14.8 million members.12

A local union is a branch or unit of a national union that represents workers at a specific plant or over a specific geographic area. Local 276 of the United Auto Workers represents assembly employees at the General Motors plant in Arlington, Texas. A local union (in conformance with its national union rules) determines the number of local union officers, procedures for electing officers, the schedule of local meetings, financial arrangements with the national organization, and the local’s role in negotiating labor agreements.

The three main functions of the local union are collective bargaining, worker relations and membership services, and community and political activities. Collective bargaining takes place every three or four years. Local union officers and shop stewards in the plant oversee labor relations on a day-to-day basis. A shop steward is an elected union official who represents union members to management when workers have complaints. For most union members, his or her primary contact with the union is through union officials at the local level.

A national union can range in size from a few thousand members (Screen Actors Guild) to more than a million members (Teamsters). A national union may have a few to as many as several hundred local unions. The number of national unions has steadily declined since the early twentieth century. Much of this decline has resulted from union mergers. In 1999, for example, the United Papermakers International Union (UPICU) and the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union (OCAW) agreed to merge under the new name of PACE, or Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy International Union. PACE has about 245,000 members.

For 50 years, one union federation (the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organization, or AFL-CIO) dominated the American labor movement. A federation is a collection of unions banded together to further organizing, public relations, political, and other mutually-agreed-upon purposes of the member unions. In the summer of 2005, several unions (Teamsters, Service Employees International Union, Laborers’ International Union, United Farm Workers, Carpenters and Joiners, Unite Here, and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union) split from the AFL-CIO and formed a new federation named the Change to Win Coalition.13 The new federation and its member unions represent more than 5.5 million union members. Change to Win Coalition member unions left the AFL-CIO over leadership disagreements and ineffective organizing strategies of the AFL-CIO; one of its primary goals is to strengthen union-organizing drives and reverse the decline in union membership.14

Union Organizing

A nonunion employer becomes unionized through an organizing campaign. The campaign is started either from within, by unhappy employees, or from outside, by a union that has picked the employer for an organizing drive. Once workers and the union have made contact, a union organizer tries to convince all the workers to sign authorization cards. These cards prove the worker’s interest in having the union represent them. In most cases, employers resist this card-signing campaign by speaking out against unions in letters, posters, and employee assemblies. However, it is illegal for employers to interfere directly with the card-signing campaign or to coerce employees into not joining the union.

Once the union gets signed authorization cards from at least 30 percent of the employees, it can ask National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for a union certification election. This election, by secret ballot, determines whether the workers want to be represented by the union. The NLRB posts an election notice and defines the bargaining unit—employees who are eligible to vote and who will be represented by the particular union if it is certified. Supervisors and managers cannot vote. The union and the employer then engage in a pre-election campaign conducted through speeches, memos, and meetings. Both try to convince workers to vote in their favor. Table 8.4 lists benefits usually emphasized by the union during a campaign and common arguments employers make to convince employees a union is unnecessary.

The election itself is conducted by the NLRB. If a majority vote for the union, the NLRB certifies the union as the exclusive bargaining agent for all employees who had been designated as eligible voters. The employer then has to bargain with the union over wages, hours, and other terms of employment. The complete organizing process is summarized in Exhibit 8.10.

In some situations, after one year, if the union and employer don’t reach an agreement, the workers petition for a decertification election, which is similar to the certification election but allows workers to vote out the union. Decertification elections are also held when workers become dissatisfied with a union that has represented them for a longer time. In recent years, the number of decertification elections has increased to several hundred per year.

Benefits Stressed by Unions in Organizing Campaigns and Common Arguments Against Unions
Almost Always Stressed Often Stressed Seldom Stressed
Grievance procedures More influence in decision-making Higher-quality products
Job security Better working conditions Technical training
Improved benefits Lobbying opportunities More job satisfaction
Higher pay Increased production
Employer Arguments Against Unionization:
  • An employee can always come directly to management with a problem; a third party (the union) isn’t necessary.
  • As a union member, you will pay monthly union dues of $15 to $40.
  • Merit-based decisions (promotions) are better than seniority-based decisions.
  • Pay and benefits are very similar to the leading firms in the industry.
  • We meet all health and safety standards of the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
  • Performance and productivity are more important than union representation in determining pay raises.
Table 8.4
The steps are numbered 1 through 7. 1, union contact with employees. 2, authorization card campaign. 3, petition for certification election. 4, N L R B determination of bargaining unit. 5, employer and union pre election campaigns. 6, election. 7 a, certification of union and start of collective bargaining. 7 b, rejection of union.
Exhibit 8.10 Union Organizing Process and Election (Attribution: Copyright Rice University, OpenStax, under CC BY 4.0 license.)

Negotiating Union Contracts through Collective Bargaining

A labor agreement, or union contract, is created through collective bargaining. Typically, both management and union negotiation teams are made up of a few people. One person on each side is the chief spokesperson. Bargaining begins with union and management negotiators setting a list of contract issues that will be discussed. Much of the bargaining over specific details takes place through face-to-face meetings and the exchange of written proposals. Demands, proposals, and counterproposals are exchanged during several rounds of bargaining. The resulting contract must be approved by top management and ratified by the union members. Once both sides approve, the contract is a legally binding agreement that typically covers such issues as union security, management rights, wages, benefits, and job security. The collective bargaining process is shown in Exhibit 8.11. We will now explore some of the bargaining issues.

The chart starts with two separate boxes, one labeled employer bargaining preparation, and the other label reads union bargaining preparation. These both flow into a box labeled exchange of initial demands and proposals. This flows into bargaining agenda. This flows into bargaining compromise, concession, and tentative agreement. This branches in two directions. In one direction, it branches to top management approval. This is the end of this branch. In the other direction, it flows into vote of union members. This then flows into 2 directions. In one direction, it branches to ratification, which is the end of this branch. In the other direction, it flows into rejection and strike, which then flows into resumption of bargaining. This is the end of the flow chart.
Exhibit 8.11 The Process of Negotiating Labor Agreements (Attribution: Copyright Rice University, OpenStax, under CC BY 4.0 license.)

Union Security

A union wants all employees to be union members. This can be accomplished by negotiating a union security clause. The most common union security arrangement is the union shop, whereby nonunion workers can be hired by the firm, but then they must join the union, normally within 30 to 60 days. An agency shop does not require employees to join the union, but to remain employees, workers must pay the union a fee (known as the agency fee) to cover the union’s expenses in representing them. The union must fairly represent all workers, including those in the bargaining unit who do not become members.

Under the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, a state can make any and all forms of union security illegal by enacting a right-to-work law. In the 28 states that have these laws, employees can work at a unionized company without having to join the union. This arrangement is commonly known as an open shop. Workers don’t have to join the union or pay dues or fees to the union.

Management Rights

When a company becomes unionized, management loses some of its decision-making abilities. But management still has certain rights that can be negotiated in collective bargaining. One way to resist union involvement in management matters is to put a management rights clause in the labor agreement. Most union contracts have one. A typical clause gives the employer all rights to manage the business except as specified in the contract. For instance, if the contract does not specify the criteria for promotions, with a management rights clause, managers will have the right to use any criteria they wish. Another way to preserve management rights is to list areas that are not subject to collective bargaining. This list might secure management’s right to schedule work hours; hire and fire workers; set production standards; determine the number of supervisors in each department; and promote, demote, and transfer workers.

Wage and Benefits

Much bargaining effort focuses on wage adjustments and changes in benefits. Once agreed to, they remain in effect for the length of the contract. For example, in 2015, the United Auto Workers negotiated a four-year contract containing modest hourly wage increases with U.S. car manufacturers; pay hikes were about 3 percent for first and third years and 4 percent in year four.15 Hourly rates of pay can also increase under some agreements when the cost of living increases above a certain level each year, say 4 percent. No cost-of-living adjustment is made when annual living cost increases are under 4 percent, which has been the case for the early years of the twenty-first century.

In addition to requests for wage increases, unions usually want better benefits. In some industries, such as steel and auto manufacturing, benefits are 40 percent of the total cost of compensation. Benefits may include higher wages for overtime work, holiday work, and less desirable shifts; insurance programs (life, health and hospitalization, dental care); payment for certain nonwork time (rest periods, vacations, holiday, sick time); pensions; and income-maintenance plans. Supplementary unemployment benefits (income-maintenance) found in the auto industry are provided by the employer and are in addition to state unemployment compensation given to laid-off workers. The unemployment compensation from the state and supplementary unemployment pay from the employer together maintain as much as 80 percent of an employee’s normal pay.

Job Security and Seniority

Wage adjustments, cost-of-living increases, supplementary unemployment pay, and certain other benefits give employees under union contracts some financial security. But most financial security is directly related to job security—the assurance, to some degree, that workers will keep their jobs. Of course, job security depends primarily on the continued success and financial well-being of the company. For example, thousands of airline employees lost their jobs after the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001; these were employees with the least seniority.

Seniority, the length of an employee’s continuous service with a firm, is discussed in about 90 percent of all labor contracts. Seniority is a factor in job security; usually, unions want the workers with the most seniority to have the most job security.

Concept Check

  1. Discuss the modern labor movement.
  2. What are the various topics that may be covered during collective bargaining?
  3. Explain the differences among a union shop, agency shop, and an open shop.
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