Advantages of Collective Bargaining
Perhaps the biggest advantage of this system is that, by reaching a formal agreement, both sides come to know exactly what to expect from each other and are aware of the rights they have. This can decrease the number of conflicts that happen later on. It also can make operations more efficient.
Employees who enter collective bargaining know they have some degree of protection from employer retaliation or being let go from the job. If the employer were dealing with just a handful of individuals, he might be able to afford to lose them. When he is dealing with the entire workforce, however, operations are at risk and he no longer can easily turn a deaf ear to what his employees are saying.
Even though employers might need to back down a little, this strategy gives them the benefit of being able to deal with just a small number of people at a time. This is very practical in larger companies where the employer might have dozens, hundreds or even thousands of workers on his payroll. Working with just a few representatives also can make the issues at hand seem more personal.
Agreements reached through these negotiations usually cover a period of at least a few years. People therefore have some consistency in their work environment and policies. This typically benefits the company’s finance department because it knows that fewer items related to the budget might change.
On a broad scale, using this method well can result in more ethical way of doing business. It promotes ideas such as fairness and equality, for example. These concepts can spill over into other areas of a person’s life, inspiring better general behavior towards others.
Disadvantages of Collective Bargaining
A major drawback to using this type of negotiation system is that, even though everyone gets a say in what happens, ultimately, the majority rules, with only a few people determining what happens too many. This means that a large number of people, particularly in the general workforce, can be overshadowed and feel like their opinion doesn’t really matter. In the worst case scenario, this can cause severe division and hostility in the group.
Secondly, it always requires at least two parties. Even though the system is supposed to pull both parties together, during the process of trying to reach an agreement, people can adopt us-versus-them mentality. When the negotiations are over, this way of looking at each other can be hard to set aside, and unity in the company can suffer.
Collective bargaining can also be costly, both in terms of time and money. Representatives have to discuss everything twice—once at the small representative meetings, and again when they relay information to the larger group. Paying outside arbitrators or other professionals quickly can run up a fairly big bill, and when someone else is brought in, things often get slower and more complex because even more people are involved.
Some people point out that these techniques have a tendency to restrict the power of employers. Employees often see this as a good thing, but from the company’s perspective, it can make even basic processes difficult. It can make it a challenge to deal with individual workers, for example.
The goal of the system is always to reach a collaborative agreement, but sometimes tensions boil over. As a result, one or both parties might feel they have no choice but to muscle the other side into giving up. Workers might do this by going on strike, which hurts operations and cuts into profits. Businesses might do this by staging lockouts, which prevents members’ of the workforce from doing their jobs and getting paid, negatively effecting income and overall quality of living.
Lastly, union dues are sometimes an issue. They reduce the amount of take-home pay a person has, because they usually are deducted right from his paycheck. When things are good in a company and people don’t feel like they’re getting anything from paying the dues, they usually become unhappier about the rates.
The idea of collective bargaining emerged as a result of industrial conflict and growth of trade union movement and was first given currency in the United States by Samuel Crompers. In India the first collective bargaining agreement was conducted in 1920 at the instance of Mahatma Gandhi to regulate labour management relation between a group of employers and their workers in the textile industry in Ahmadabad