What is a collective bargaining agreement (CBA)?

One of the benefits for employees in forming and joining a union is the increased bargaining they will have against their employers. One worker will likely not be able to get his employer to agree on new safety measures or a wage increase, but more workers will have a better chance. This is an example of collective bargaining.

A collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is the agreement reached between the employer and the labor union that will govern the employment for the employee-members of that labor union. Importantly, the agreement is between the union and the employer, not between the employer and its individual employees.

CBAs commonly set forth provisions regarding wages, vacation time, working hours and conditions, and employee benefits. These provisions are enforced by the labor union to ensure that employees are treated fairly. The CBA is usually in place for a set period of time and it cannot be changed by a notice or an announcement by the employer without first negotiating with the employees’ union representatives.

The National Labor Relations Act, which was passed in 1935, guaranteed the right of employees to organize trade unions and engage in this collective bargaining. While in some states employees must join their respective unions to participate in the workforce, Texas is a right to work state. Under right to work laws, no person can be required to join a union or pay dues but can still be represented in collective bargaining by the union.

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