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How Do Bargaining Issues Differ?

CBA, known as a collective bargaining agreement, is a contract that the employer and the employee formulate that outlines the working conditions and wages that the employee expects to be provided by the employer in return for offering his or her services. Several issues are associated with CBA, and they are categorized into three types, which are mandatory bargaining issues, voluntary bargaining issues, and illegal bargaining issues. The human resource manager is tasked with ensuring that all employees have a full understanding of these three categories of bargaining and understand the differences that exist amongst them.

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Mandatory bargaining issues, also known as mandatory bargaining subjects, are those terms and conditions that are categorized as a must and should be negotiated by the management and the unions that are representing the employees. These subjects are compulsory in any working environment and thus should be discussed between an employer and a worker and an agreement should be reached before services are exchanged. These issues cannot be changed or altered by the employer without providing prior notice to the union to which the employee belongs, and also there should be an opportunity where the changes are bargained by the two parties and an understanding reached before the alterations are implemented. An example of a mandatory bargaining issue is wages and benefits which must be discussed between employer and employee, and room for bargaining over the issue is allowed. Other examples include strikes, lockouts, management rights clauses, the length of the contract, and other terms and conditions of employment.

Voluntary bargaining issues, also known as permissive subjects of bargaining, are those subjects that are not mandatory. These are those aspects that any of the two parties can choose to bargain on, but it is not mandatory to bargain on them. If any party does not wish to bargain on the subject, it is not categorized as a violation of the law. These issues cannot be bargained to the point of impasse where any of the two parties goes on a strike. Examples of voluntary bargaining issues include the prices in which the employer sells its products, marketing strategies of the employer as well as the internal business of the Union to which the employees are affiliated.

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Illegal bargaining issues, also known as illegal subjects of bargaining, are those items that, even if they are included in a collective bargaining agreement document, cannot be enforced as they are illegal. These subjects in one way or the other violate employment laws in various states and as such cannot be enforced by the two parties. An example of an illegal bargaining issue is an instance where the contract states that an employee who misses work for three days a week is punished by being lashed at strokes by fellow employees. This act is illegal in most states and as such an issue is viewed as an unlawful bargaining issue. Other examples of illegal bargaining subjects are clauses that require a closed shop, hot cargo agreements, union shop clauses that are found in right-to-work states, and any subject that violates any federal or state employment laws that protect employees.

Bargaining issues are determined by their names which depict the nature of the subjects when bargaining a CBA takes place. Employers and employees should understand the different concepts so that they are not forced to bargain issues that they are not supposed to bargain. Understanding these bargaining subjects makes the CBA bargaining process much easier and smoother to deal with.

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