Collective agreements are legally binding contracts between employers and employees or their respective trade unions that set out the terms and conditions of employment. These agreements are used to regulate and facilitate the relationship between employers and employees, defining the rights and obligations of both parties. In this article, we will discuss the legal status of a collective agreement.
Collective agreements are recognized by law under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This Act grants employees the right to form unions and to engage in collective bargaining to negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment. The NLRA also requires employers to bargain in good faith with their employees` chosen representatives.
Collective agreements are legally binding on both parties, and as such, they have the force of law. Once agreed, they cannot be changed unilaterally without the consent of both parties. Collective agreements are considered to be a contract of service between the employer and the employees represented by the union. As long as the agreement is in force, it binds all employees covered by it, including those who are not members of the union.
The enforcement of collective agreements is mainly done through legal procedures. Disputes related to violation of the collective agreement are generally resolved through arbitration, which is a process of dispute resolution in which an independent third party, called an arbitrator, makes a final and binding decision. The decision of the arbitrator is enforceable in court.
In addition, any breach of the collective agreement may result in legal action by the affected party. The affected party may sue for damages or seek a court order to enforce the terms of the agreement.
Collective agreements are generally for a specific period, which may vary depending on the agreement reached between the employer and the employees or their respective union. Once the agreement has expired, the parties may negotiate a new agreement, including new terms and conditions of employment.
In summary, a collective agreement is a legally binding contract between the employer and the employees or their respective union that defines the terms and conditions of employment. It is recognized by law and has the force of law. The agreement is binding on both parties and may be enforced through legal procedures, including arbitration or legal action. Any breach of the agreement may result in legal action by the affected party. The duration of the agreement is typically for a specific period, with renewal subject to renegotiation by the parties.