Sample Contract Language from U.S. Collective Bargaining Agreements

Collective bargaining agreements can cover a wide range of job-related issues—from wages and overtime pay to health benefits and family leave. Contracts can also ensure employees of a right to a voice at work over quality standards, such as staffing ratios to improve worker safety or protection of an employee’s right to speak out if corners are being cut in product quality. Here are a few samples from real-life union contracts.

Subject: Piece Rates

Piece rates for tile shall be determined on a job-by-job basis between the employer and the employees performing tile work based on the following: The minimum per square rate shall not be lower than the hourly prevailing wage rate as set for the county wherein the work is to be performed, or the current journeymen hourly rate set by this agreement, whichever is higher.
United Roofing Contractors Association of San Diego County and United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, Local #45 (2009)

If the group average piece rate earnings for a period of three (3) weeks, not including employees having substandard workload assignments, are lower than the "negotiated rate" for causes beyond the control of the employees, the Union may present a grievance to increase the earnings of the employees involved so that the average earnings of the group equals the negotiated rate for so long as such conditions exist.
Pillowtex Corporation and Its Subsidiary Fieldcrest Cannon, Inc. and Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE), AFL-CIO-CLC (2003)

Subject: Overtime

Overtime shall be paid at time and one-half (1½) for work in excess of eight (8) hours in a regular workday or after forty (40) hours in a regular workweek. Overtime at two (2) times the regular pay rate shall be paid for hours exceeding 12 in a workday or any work performed on Sundays or holidays. Overtime at two (2) times the regular pay rate shall be paid for all work in excess of fifty (50) hours in a regular workweek.
United Roofing Contractors Association of San Diego County and United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, Local #45 (2009)

Overtime work shall be voluntary, except in emergencies or should the required employees not be available on a voluntary basis. There shall be no discrimination against any employee who declines to voluntarily work overtime.
Ramsey, County of and Council 5, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO, Local 8 (2006) (MOA)

Subject: Vacation

All full-time employees who have completed one (1) year of continuous service with the Authority will be eligible for a paid vacation. The vacation received in any calendar year shall be based on the number of years of service of the employee with the Authority and on the number of days worked by the employee in the previous calendar year. For purposes of determining vacation eligibility only, holidays and vacation days shall be considered as days worked.
Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), AFL-CIO, Local 268 (2000)

Vacation may be taken in segments of one (1) or two (2) uninterrupted calendar weeks unless other mutually acceptable accommodations are approved by the Employer. Whenever possible the Employer shall give due consideration to family emergencies, family plans, and distance required to be traveled by the employee in considering requests by the employee that the entire vacation period be taken at one time.
Fry's Marketplace and United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), AFL-CIO-CLC, Local 99 (2003)

Subject: Workday/Workweek

Except under unforeseeable circumstances, the Agency/Department Head shall make every reasonable effort to assure that no employee shall have more than one change of shift in any workweek and that the employee shall be off duty no less than 12 hours prior to working the new shift.
Alameda, County of and Service Employees International Union (SEIU), AFL-CIO, Hospital and Health Care Workers Union Local 250, Social Services Union Local 535, United Services Employees Local 616 (2000) (MOA)

No employee shall be required to work more than five (5) continuous hours without a lunch period. Employees must be dressed and ready for work at the scheduled starting time.
Jewel Food Stores, Inc. and United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), AFL-CIO-CLC, Local 1546 (2004)

Subject: Disputes and Grievance Procedure

It is the policy of the State and Association to encourage informal discussions between supervisors and employees of employee complaints. Such discussions should be held with a view to reaching an understanding, which will resolve the matter in a manner satisfactory to the employee, without need for recourse to the formal grievance procedure prescribed by this Article.
Florida, State of (Professional Health Care Unit Agreement) and Florida Nurses Association (FNA) (2005)

Faculty unit members, in processing grievances, may represent themselves or be represented by someone of their choice. Beginning at Step 1, [Council of Higher Education (COHE)] and the administration will have the right to have an observer present at all meetings between the parties called for the purpose of discussing grievances.
South Dakota Board of Regents and Council of Higher Education (COHE) (2002)

Subject: Wages

Wages shall be paid weekly in cash or by check or any other payroll procedures acceptable to the Employees. If wages are paid by check, payment shall be made no later than Thursday in the week. When paid by check, the Employees must receive them before the lunch period, unless unusual circumstances, including an act of God, may cause a delay. A repeated delay will be considered a violation of this Agreement.
Association of Contracting Plumbers of the City of New York, Inc. and United Association of Journeymen & Apprentices of the Plumbing & Pipefitting Industry of the United States & Canada (PPF), Local 1 (2004)

Any additional men required to work on any shift will receive the same rate of pay as the men already at work on that shift providing they have not worked on any other job or for any other Employer on that date. Any shift worked under this provision shall be for a minimum of eight (8) hours pay. If the first hour of the day shift is paid for at a premium rate of wages, the same shall apply to each shift thereafter.
Great Lakes Fabricators & Erectors Association, Michigan Conveyor Manufacturers Association, Inc. and International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), AFL-CIO, Locals 324, 324A (2001)

Subject: Health Insurance Benefits

The Employer will make available a group insurance program covering certain hospitalization, surgical, and medical benefits for participating fulltime employees and their eligible dependents. This insurance program shall be on a voluntary basis for all full-time employees who elect to participate in the insurance program.
SNE Enterprises, Inc. and Midwestern Council of Industrial Workers of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) and Joiners of America Local 1594 (2004)

Any employee will become eligible for and covered by a hospital-medical program, dental program, prescription drug plan and vision care plan on the first day of the calendar month after completing eighty (80) straight-time or more straight-time hours of paid-for employment in a calendar month for three (3) months within a six (6) consecutive month period and for which contributions have been received by the Trust.
Industrial Employers and Distributors Association and International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), Locals 6 and 17 (2003)

Subject: Seniority

The principle of seniority shall prevail at all times. Everything being equal, seniority shall prevail but fitness and ability shall be considered at all times. Seniority is defined as total length of service with the employer. There shall be a one (1) year probationary period. Discharge or resignation shall constitute a break in service. The last employee hired shall be the first employee laid off, and in rehiring, the last employee laid off shall be the first employee rehired.
Columbia, District of, Board of Education and International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), Locals 639, 730 (2000)

Seniority shall apply in the scheduling of vacations, shift assignments, promotions, layoff and recall of employees and in the computation and determination of eligibility for all benefits where length of service is a factor pursuant to this Agreement.
Johns Hopkins Hospital, Inc. and SEIU, AFL-CIO, District 1199E-DC (2004)

Subject: Tardiness

 Since there are occasions on which a person is late for justifiable reasons, this program for tardiness provides for a flexible, fair policy, which should not affect conscientious employees. For the purpose of this policy, tardiness shall be defined as reporting to work five minutes after the prescribed starting time, whether it be the beginning of the work day, after lunch, or after breaks. In addition, habitual tardiness shall be defined as being late four times or more in a calendar month.
Trenton, City of and American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO, Local 2286 (2002)

With regard to chronic tardiness or absenteeism, the following disciplinary action shall be taken: First unexcused absence or tardiness - verbal warning; Second unexcused absence or tardiness - first written warning notice; Third unexcused absence or tardiness - one week layoff without pay; Fourth unexcused absence or tardiness - subject to discharge.
HAC, Inc. and United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) Locals 1000 and 2 (2002)

Subject: No Strike/No Lockout 

The Union will not cause or permit its members to cause nor will any member of the Union take part in any strike or stoppage of any of the Corporation's operations or picket any of the Corporation's plants or premises until all the Grievance Procedure as outlined in this Agreement has been exhausted.
Daimler Chrysler Corporation and International Union, United Automobile Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) Locals 72 et al. (2003)

During the life of this Master Agreement, no strike or work stoppage in connection with disputes arising hereunder shall be caused or sanctioned by the International Union, any of the Local Unions or by any member thereof; and no lockout shall be ordered by the Company in connection with such disputes.
Kellogg Company and Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), AFL-CIO-CLC Locals No. 3-G, 50-G, 252-G, 374-G (2005)