Building Trades Field Guide To Union Leadership
What does management want? Employers often seek contract language that reserves their authority to act unilaterally in all areas where the contract is silent. Union negotiators should consider this when crafting contract proposals. Explicit language that specifies management rights in detail is preferable to language that is subject to open-ended interpretation by the employer.
A most favored nations clause specifies that if a the union grants more favorable terms to any employer than those terms already contained in the collective bargaining agreement, then any signatory employer may also apply those favorable terms to its workers. The following is a typical contract clause. “Should the union extend to any other employer within the area covered by this agreement, terms or conditions which are more favorable to said employer than the terms and conditions set forth in this agreement, such terms and conditions shall automatically be extended to all employers, parties to this agreement. “
A most favored nations clause can present great difficulties to an organizer seeking an agreement with open shop contractors. In a non-traditional market segment there may be wide disparities in wages and working conditions. Consider adding contract language that specifically addresses that market segment. For example, if maintenance work in a region was largely performed by non-union contractors, add: “It is understood that this clause does not apply to maintenance contracts.”
In the interest of obtaining uniformity in wages and working conditions, the union also should consider adding a “me too” clause to the collective bargaining agreement. Such a provision would require extending to all crafts any favorable terms that have been granted to one craft.
Occasionally, contractors or developers will sign a union agreement with the local for the duration of a single project. Maintaining the flexibility to negotiate such agreements will assist organizing activities. The following clause can be added to a standard most favored nations clause. “If the union makes any “project only” agreement with any other employer containing terms or conditions which in the opinion of the employer are more favorable to such other employer as provided herein, that other agreement – at the option of the employer, shall be substituted for this agreement shall apply for that specific project.”
Subcontracting clauses limits how and to whom a contractor may assign work. To the extent that such a clause seeks to preserve bargaining unit work, it is termed a primary clause and legal for any union to negotiate. A primary clause may be enforced by economic self-help and need not be limited to on site construction work. A secondary clause is one that is directed at a non-signatory third party. In the construction industry, secondary clauses are allowable if they are directed only at other employers on the construction site. Under Section 8(f) of the Act, unions may negotiate a pre-hire agreement with signatory contractors that provides for union-only subcontracting on a construction project. “Employers shall not contract any work covered by this agreement to be done at the site of the construction, alteration, painting or repair of a building, structure, or other work to any person, firm or company who does not have a an existing labor agreement with the Union covering such work. “
Key words and phrases in contracts (from the Boilermakers)
Many words and phrases that frequently appear in contracts can cause problems for people when they first begin interpreting contract language. You may use these terms in different ways in your everyday life, but they have very specific meanings when they appear in a contract.
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