Glossary of Terms
A bargaining unit in a workplace in which all the workers whom the union is legally required to represent must either pay the union dues or an agency fee. RCW 41.80 permits agency shops with agency shop fees, as long as those agency shop fees are not greater than membership fees, and the union provides a procedure for paying a reduces amount known as a representation fee.
A written agreement or Contract that results from negotiations between an employer or a group of employers through their exclusive representative(s). It sets out the conditions of employment (wages, hours, fringe benefits, etc.) and procedures to settle disputes arising during the term of the CBA. Also known as a Collective Bargaining Agreement or Contract. (See Labor Relations: Collective Bargaining FAQs.)
American Arbitration Association (AAA)
A not-for-profit organization that administers arbitration proceedings. The AAA also administers mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.
A method of settling a labor-management dispute by having an impartial third party hold a formal hearing, take testimony and render a final and binding decision.
A statement signed by an employee designating a union to act as his or her representative in collective bargaining negotiations. Unions, to demonstrate employee support for the organization and to request an election for an appropriate bargaining unit, use authorization cards. (See Labor Relations: Representation FAQs.)
Any lawful organization that has as one of its primary purposes as the representation of employees in their employment relations with employers. Also known as Exclusive Representative or Union.
Bargaining Unit (BU)
A group of employees that form a sufficient community of interest that a union can reasonably represent those employees, particularly when negotiating conditions of employment.
A meeting of a small group to plan strategy. Often applied to a bargaining team meeting to discuss proposals and determine bargaining strategy. (See Labor Relations: Collective Bargaining FAQs.)
Procedure under the Public Employment Relations Commission where an election is held to determine whether or not employees in a given unit wish to be or not to be represented. (See Labor Relations: Representation FAQs.)
A method of bilateral decision-making in which the employer and the exclusive representative of the employees determine wages, hours, and terms of conditions of employment for all workers in a bargaining unit through direct negotiations. (See Labor Relations: Collective Bargaining FAQs.)
Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)
A written agreement or Contract that results from negotiations between an employer or a group of employers through their exclusive representative(s). It sets out the conditions of employment (wages, hours, fringe benefits, etc.) and procedures to settle disputes arising during the term of the CBA. Also known as Agreement or Contract. (See Labor Relations: Collective Bargaining FAQs.)
Community of Interest
The grouping of employees according to similarities of work, supervision, or statutory interpretation for the purpose of creating bargaining units appropriate for collective bargaining.
Those employees who, by the nature of their work, have access to information that is used in the development of employer collective bargaining strategies or policies. Therefore, confidential employees are not eligible to be represented by a union in collective bargaining.
Contract (Agreement or Collective Bargaining Agreement)
A written agreement or Contract that results from negotiations between an employer or a group of employers through their exclusive representative(s). It sets out the conditions of employment (wages, hours, fringe benefits, etc.) and procedures to settle disputes arising during the term of the Contract. Also known as Agreement or Collective Bargaining Agreement. (See Labor Relations: Collective Bargaining FAQs.)
An offer made by one party in collective bargaining negotiations in response to a proposal by the other party. (See Labor Relations: Collective Bargaining FAQs.)
The withdrawal by the Public Employment Relations Commission of a union’s designation as exclusive representative, usually as a result of an election called for by employee petition. (See Labor Relations: Representation FAQs.)
Occurs when an employer and represented employee discuss and take action, without the union’s knowledge or presence, in matters that fall within the scope of mandatory subjects of bargaining.
Union dues are the basic fees that employees pay on a monthly basis to the union in order to obtain membership rights. The amount of dues is set by the union and can vary greatly from union to union. Dues are set by the individual unions.
The withholding, by the employer, of union dues and fees from employees’ salary payments and the transmittal of these funds to the union. In the state of Washington, employees must provide written authorization in order for the dues and fees to be withheld from their paychecks.
Duty of Fair Representation
The legal obligation for a union to fairly represent all employees in the bargaining unit without regard to factors such as union membership or membership in a protected class.
Duty to Bargain
The legally enforceable obligation of each party in a collective bargaining relationship to meet at reasonable times and places, and negotiate in good faith with respect to wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment. (See Labor Relations: Collective Bargaining FAQs.)
An employee organization identified by the Public Employment Relations Commission as the sole, official representative to bargain collectively for employees in a bargaining unit. The exclusive bargaining representative is usually referred to as the “union”.
Good Faith Bargaining
The legal requirement that the two parties to a collective bargaining relationship meet and negotiate at reasonable times and places, with a willingness to reach an agreement on the terms of a collective bargaining agreement. (See Labor Relations: Collective Bargaining FAQs.)
A formal complaint or allegation by an employee or group of employees (through the union) that part of the collective bargaining agreement has been violated.
Illegal (Prohibited) Subjects of Bargaining
Topics that the parties may not bargain. These include but are not limited to those topics that would violate state or federal laws. These may differ depending on bargaining laws such as RCW 41.56 and RCW 41.80.040.
A situation in collective bargaining that occurs when the employer and the union, both bargaining in good faith, fail to reach agreement. Impasses are often resolved by the intervention of a neutral party such as a mediator, fact finder, or arbitrator. (See Labor Relations: Collective Bargaining FAQs.)
Referenced in many collective bargaining agreements, a widely-used term that requires the employer to use good and sufficient reasons to discipline employees. There are generally accepted elements of just cause that an employer must prove to an arbitrator in order for a disciplinary action to be upheld.
The inherent rights of an employer to make decisions regarding its business. These may be expressly reserved to management in a collective bargaining agreement, or, as in RCW 41.80, they may be removed from the scope of collective bargaining by law.
Mandatory Subject of Bargaining
Bargaining issues that neither party may refuse to negotiate. They include wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.
A process in which a neutral third party assists parties in a bargaining dispute to come to a voluntary agreement. The mediator may suggest to the parties various proposals and methods for resolution of disputes, but he/she has no formal power to force a settlement.
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
A formal, signed agreement that serves as an addendum to the collective bargaining agreement. A MOU usually addresses a significant issue that emerged during the term of the agreement, and it represents the mutual understanding between the parties on that issue. Also known as a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), a Letter of Understanding (LOU) or a Letter of Agreement (LOA).
The history of the way parties have behaved toward one another in the past that bears upon the expectations the parties have regarding negotiations in the future. Such practices, sanctioned by use and acceptance, are not specifically included in the collective bargaining agreement. To constitute a past practice the issue must be: 1) clear to the parties; 2) consistent in its application over a period of time; and 3) condoned by the parties. Arbitrators use past practice to interpret ambiguous language in the collective bargaining agreement.
Permissive Subject of Bargaining
Issues that are neither mandatory nor prohibited. Parties may agree to negotiate them, but neither party may insist upon its positions on a permissive topic to the point of impasse. Examples of Permissive Subjects of Bargaining include benefits for non-employees (such as retirees), selection of bargaining representatives, internal union affairs, settlement of an unfair labor practice charge, etc.
Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC)
The state agency which regulates the relationships between public employers (the State of Washington, local governments, local taxing districts, public schools, and community and four-year colleges and universities) concerning representation issues and unfair labor practices. PERC also provides mediation during bargaining disputes.
Formal approval of a newly-negotiated Tentative Agreement by a vote of an employer’s governing body or by bargaining unit employees. Eligible voters in a union ratification are determined by the union’s bylaws and constitution. For most Washington state employees, the ratified Tentative Agreement are then subject to legislative approval of the economic items.
Refusal to Bargain
Findings of fact and conclusions of law made by the Public Employment Relations Commission where one party to a collective bargaining relationship has charged that the other party has not bargained in good faith according to the requirements of the appropriate statute. A variety of remedies may be applied depending upon the circumstances of each case. (See Labor Relations: Collective Bargaining FAQs.)
A secret-ballot election to determine whether the employees in an appropriate Bargaining Unit will or will not have a union as an exclusive representative.
Showing of Interest
The support among employees in a proposed or existing bargaining unit that a union or employee petitioner must demonstrate to file a representation petition. (See Labor Relations: Representation FAQs.)
An employee in a bargaining unit who has been designated by the union to act, on its behalf when meeting with management, or when representing bargaining unit employees. They may assist employees in filing grievances, and in conveying their concerns to the union and/or the employer. Also known as Shop Steward or Union Representative.
A temporary stoppage of work by a group of employees, not necessarily union members, to express a complaint, enforce a demand for changes in conditions of employment, obtain recognition, or resolve a dispute with management. The right to strike is not granted to employees of the state of Washington, per RCW 41.80.060 and RCW 41.56.120.
Tentative Agreement (TA)
The agreement reached through bargaining prior to finalization and its ratification or final approval by the negotiators’ constituencies. (See Labor Relations: Collective Bargaining FAQs.)
Unfair Labor Practice (ULP)
Practices by either party that interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of their collective bargaining rights granted by statute. These illegal practices are specifically defined in RCW 41.80.110, RCW 41.56.140 and 150, and RCW 47.64.130.
A union staff member responsible for carrying out union representational duties in the workplace. Also referred to as Labor Advocates or Council Representatives. A Union Representative is typically a paid employee of the union (Unlike a Steward/Employee Representative, who is usually a WSU employee who is involved with the union).
Union Security Provision
The part of the collective bargaining agreement that addresses union membership, which directly affects union dues and fees.
The statutory process whereby one party to a collective bargaining relationship challenges either the inclusion or the exclusion of certain classifications of employees in the membership of a bargaining unit. Normally because the classifications are supervisors (in a rank-and-file bargaining unit), they are confidential employees, or the classification has a community of interest with an existing or different bargaining unit.
Rights to representation developed because of the United States Supreme Court decision in National Labor Relations Board v. J. Weingarten, Inc. An employee is entitled to have a representative present at a meeting with management if the employee reasonably believes that corrective action may be taken as a result of the meeting. This right does not extend to counseling sessions. The right to representation only arises when the employee requests representation.