Collective Bargaining Theory and Practice

Course Number:  LABR 620     


This course will provide students with a theoretical and practical understanding of the bargaining process. Students will examine the context, content, and process of the collective bargaining. While considering both union and managements perspectives, they will weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the collective bargaining to each party. Students will examine the legal framework of collective bargaining and will study the evolution of public-policy governing labor relations. At the same time, they will consider the historical evolution of strategies and tactics employed at the bargaining table in both the private and public sectors.

Through the use of case studies, students will consider bargaining scenarios in a wide range of sectors and industries. Students will also gain a practical understanding by designing and participating in mock bargaining sessions. In addition to studying the bargaining process and methods of contract enforcement, students will discuss alternative models of worker representation as well as new forms of bargaining that are evolving in the context of a global economy.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Students will develop an advanced knowledge of labor relations in a variety of workplace environments
  • Students will develop an understanding of the theory and process of collective bargaining.
  • Students will understand the legal, social, political and economic framework of collective bargaining
  • Students will acquire the skills necessary to prepare for, and participate in, negotiations, grievance handling,  and contract administration
  • Students will understand both union and management approaches to collective bargaining.
  • Students will become familiar with behavioral studies and will be able to analyze organizational conflict and change in the labor-management relationship and the labor-relations process.



Session 1:  Defining Collective Bargaining
Development of Collective Bargaining and Comparative Bargaining Systems
Relationships between the Parties--union/employer/government
The legal framework: national, regional, and local laws
Comparative bargaining systems  

Session 2:  Behavioral Theories of the Negotiation Process  
Distributive and Integrative Bargaining Models
Attitudinal Structuring Tactics

Session 3: Functions of Collective Bargaining
Market/Economic function
Political Function: democratizing the workplace or suppressing workers
What Unions Like/Don’t Like About Collective Bargaining
What Employers Like/Don’t Like About Collective Bargaining

Session 4:  Framing the Collective Bargaining Process
Parties to Collective Bargaining
Bargaining Units
Coverage of Bargaining
Duration of Agreements

Session 5: The Bargaining Process
Preparation for Negotiations: Formulation of Demands
Trading Points and Counterpoints
Costing Out the Contractual Changes

Session 6: Simulation: Negotiating a Collective Bargaining Agreement
           ∙  Union-Collective Bargaining Fact Sheet
           ∙  Management-Collective Bargaining Fact Sheet
             Collective Bargaining:  Vocabulary and Sequence of Events
             Collective Bargaining Fact Sheet Terms 
           ∙  Negotiations Chart      

Session 7: Administration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement
Grievance Procedure
Case study: To Be Determined
Session 8:  Content of Agreements: Wage and Salary Issues
Determining basic wage rates: comparative norm, ability to pay, standard of living
Cost of Living: Escalator and Wage-Reopener Arrangements
Wage Differentials
Overtime and Flextime
Job Evaluation and Job Comparisons
Two Tier Wage Systems

Session 9: Content of Agreements: Economic Supplements
Pension Plans
Vacations and Holidays with Pay
Negotiated Benefit Plans: Health Insurance, Education/Training

Session 10:  Content of Agreements: Institutional Issues
Union Membership
Union Obligations
Managerial Prerogatives
Employment Stock Ownership

Session 11:  Content of Agreements: Administrative Issues
Discharge and Discipline: just cause, past practices, evidence and testimony
Safety and Health
Production Standards and Staffing
Technology Change
Plant Closings

Session 12: Bargaining Strategies
Industry-wide Bargaining
Pattern Bargaining
Coordinated Bargaining
Case Study: To be determined

Session 13: Economic Pressure
Lock outs
Case study: To Be Determined

Session 14: Simulation: Negotiating a Collective Bargaining Agreement

Session 15: Strategies for the Future
Bargaining Across Borders
Case Study: To Be Determined