If you are new to labor unions, there are some terms that you may come across during your quest for information about unions.
ARBITRATION – is the resolution of a dispute through an ARBITRATOR. In “grievance arbitration” arbitrators interpret and apply the terms of a COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT. In “interest arbitration” arbitrators resolve IMPASSES by dictating the actual terms or conditions for an agreement.
ARBITRATOR – an impartial third party to whom parties of an agreement refer their disputes for resolution.
ASSESSMENTS – fees, FINES, charges and penalties charged to employees by their unions, above monthly DUES amounts. Assessments are sometimes discipline based, and other times may benefit a union initiative – such as for special programs or political contributions.
AUTHORIZATION CARDS – are cards circulated by union organizations seeking employee signatures, usually to demonstrate a basis for a SECRET-BALLOT ELECTION. Under CARD CHECK, however, CERTIFICATION of a union can be based solely on whether a majority of employees in a COLLECTIVE BARGAINING UNIT signed authorization cards.
BEST-AND-FINAL OFFER – the declaration by a company that it is presenting its most beneficial offer to the union in a COLLECTIVE BARGAINING process, noting that it does not intend to make any further concessions or improve its offer further.
BY-LAWS – are union procedures dictating how the organization will function and its membership will conduct themselves. Violation of a union’s by-laws is often punishable by FINES or other ASSESSMENTS.
CARD CHECK – the process in which CERTIFICATION – that is, whether or not a group of employees is to be represented by a union – is based on whether or not a majority of employees in a prospective COLLECTIVE BARGAINING UNIT signed
UNION AUTHORIZATION CARDS.
CERTIFICATION – the determination that a COLLECTIVE BARGAINING UNIT of employees is to be represented exclusively by a union, usually based on the outcome of a SECRET-BALLOT ELECTION.
COLLECTIVE BARGAINING – the process of offer and counter-offer in which parties attempt to reach agreement. If no agreement can be reached, it is said that the parties are at IMPASSE, which can lead to situations of STRIKE. Also includes the internal negotiation that occurs within one of the parties during the negotiation process, a such as between union representatives and their members.
COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT – any forms of an agreement stemming from collective bargaining to establish the conditions of employment for a unit of union-represented employees, including dues withholding, grievance procedures and duration of the contract.
COLLECTIVE BARGAINING UNIT – a group of employees designated for union representation.
COMPULSORY UNIONIZATION – is a requirement in some states that individuals must join a union as a condition of employment.
DECERTIFICATION –the process in which a group of unionized employees seeks to withdraw from union membership, usually based on the outcome of a SECRET-BALLOT ELECTION. The process begins with a petition to the National Labor Relations Act by the represented employees.
DUES – amounts deducted from employees’ paychecks and paid to the union, usually a percentage of wages. Does not include additional ASSESSMENTS that may be added.
FINES – are financial penalties charged by a union against its members for violating union BY-LAWS or other rules, such as crossing a picket line to work.
GOOD FAITH BARGAINING – is the expectation that all parties will approach a COLLECTIVE BARGAINING process with the sincere resolve to reach of COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT. Includes the expectation to have adequate representation of authorized representatives, to negotiation on all relevant issues, to meet at reasonable times and places as frequently as possible, to avoid unnecessary delays or cancelations, and to provide necessary information in a timely manner.
GRIEVANCE – an official complaint against a unionized employee, their union or an employer relating to the employment of the employee, or the conduct individual, union or company.
GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE – the systematic process agreed to by the parties of a COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT in which a grievance is moved from one level of authority to the next higher until the situation is settled, withdrawn or referred to arbitration. Unionized employees, as are all parties of the agreement, are bound to submit to the approved procedures in their agreement.
IMPASSE – occurs when parties have reached a deadlock in negotiations and are unable to reach agreement. Sometimes an impasse may trigger an arbitration process. In other situations, it may lead to a STRIKE or other work stoppage.
INITIATION FEES – are financial charges that new members must pay to the union upon becoming a member.
LM-2 REPORT – is an annual report filed by each union to the federal government, detailing how union dues were spent, what salaries were paid to union officials and other details. LM-2 reports are available on-line at:
MEDIATOR – an independent third-party that assists parties in COLLECTIVE BARGAINING to reach agreement. A mediator does not have the authority to impose settlement or agreement.
REPRESENTATION ELECTION – a SECRET-BALLOT ELECTION to determine whether employees in a proposed COLLECTIVE BARGAINING UNIT will be represented by a designated union.
RIGHT TO WORK – is a designation by a state not to require COMPULSORY UNIONIZATION. Currently, there are 28 states that recognize RIGHT TO WORK in which union membership is not mandatory for employees.
SECRET-BALLOT ELECTION – a process usually monitored by the National Labor Relations Board in which employees vote individually via private-ballot whether or not they seek union membership. Majority wishes of the COLLECTIVE BARGAINING UNIT determines the outcome of the election, and employees’ votes are kept confidential.
STANDARDS OF CONDUCT FOR LABOR ORGANIZATIONS – are requirements regarding internal demographic practices, fiscal accountability and responsible procedures to which a union must adhere to, as enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor.
STRIKE – an event following IMPASSE in COLLECTIVE BARGAINING in which a union calls its represented members off the job, during which time employees do not receive paychecks or receive insurance benefits.
UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE – is a violation of labor regulations by either an employer or a union. ULP “charges” are allegations filed with the agency. ULP “complaints” are charges that a regulatory body has determined have merit for further investigation.