Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in 1935 (29 U.S.C.A. No. 151 and following) to establish the right of workers to collective bargaining and other group activities. The NLRA also created the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), a federal authority empowered to enforce the right to collective bargaining (No. 153). The NLRA has been amended several times since 1935, including 1947, 1959 and 1974. Exclusive Representation A majority of workers in a bargaining unit must appoint a representative with the exclusive or exclusive right to represent them in negotiations with the employer`s representative (29 U.S.C.A. The employer is not required to negotiate with an unauthorized representative (p. 158).
Once a valid representative has been selected, non-unionized workers are also bound by the collective agreement and cannot negotiate individual contracts with the employer (J. I. Case Co. /NLRB, 321 U.S. 332, 64 p. Ct. 576, 88 L Ed. 762 ). Accordingly, the employer should not extend different conditions to workers in the bargaining unit, even if these conditions are more favourable, unless the collective agreement contemplates flexible terms (Emporium Capwell Co. v.
Western Addition Community Organization, 420 U.S. 50, 95 P. Ct. 977, 43 L Ed. 2d 12 ). The right to bargain collectively with an employer strengthens the human dignity, freedom and autonomy of workers by giving them the opportunity to influence the definition of labour rules and thus gain some control over an important aspect of their lives, namely their work… Collective bargaining is not just a tool for pursuing external objectives… Rather, it is an experience as an experience of self-management that is in itself valuable… Collective bargaining enables workers to achieve some form of democracy in the workplace and to guarantee the rule of law in the workplace. Workers gain a voice to influence the definition of rules that control an important aspect of their lives.  A unilateral amendment prior to authorization to leave a mandatory bargaining topic is generally an unfair labour practice, although workers may view the amendment as beneficial.
According to the Supreme Court, unilateral amendments minimize the influence of collective bargaining by giving workers the impression that a union is not necessary to reach an agreement with the employer. For example, in NLRB v. Katz, 369 U.S. 736, 82 P. Ct. 1107, 8 L Ed. 2d 230 (1962), the employer unilaterally changed its sick leave policy and increased its rates of pay without first negotiating with the union. The Court found that the unilateral change of the employer undermined the union`s bargaining ability on sick leave, wages and other conditions of employment.
Collective agreements are signed for certain periods, usually two to four years. A collective agreement is mandatory for both the employers` organization and its members, the union and its members, on the other. In addition, a collective agreement is generally also in practice, if not theoretically, for individual non-unionized workers and unionized workers who belong to a union other than the union that are part of the collective agreement, provided that (i) the worker works with collective agreement tasks and (ii) that the union to which the worker is affiliated is not bound by another collective agreement with the employer. The definition of a collective agreement is contained in the Participation Act, which stipulates that a collective agreement is a written agreement between employers` organizations or an employer, on the one hand, and a workers` organization, on the other, which regulates the conditions of employment or the relationship between the employer and the worker.