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  • What is Collective Bargaining?

     COLLECTIVE BARGAINING, AS CONTEMPLATED BY THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS ACT, IS A PROCEDURE LOOKING TOWARD MAKING OF COLLECTIVE AGREEMENTS BETWEEN EMPLOYER AND ACCREDITED REPRESENTATIVE OF EMPLOYEES CONCERNING WAGES, HOURS, AND OTHER CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT.  IT REQUIRES THAT PARTIES DEAL WITH EACH OTHER WITH OPEN AND FAIR MINDS AND SINCERELY ENDEAVOR TO OVERCOME OBSTACLES EXISTING BETWEEN THEM TO THE END THAT EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS MAY BE STABILIZED.

     COLLECTIVE BARGAINING, AS DEFINED ABOVE, IS AVAILABLE TO ANY GROUP OF EMPLOYEES THAT ARE EMPLOYED BY A PRIVATE EMPLOYER.  FOR PUBLIC EMPLOYEES, HOWEVER, IT IS A DIFFERENT STORY.  

    IN TEXAS , THE ONLY PUBLIC EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE THE RIGHT TO BARGAIN COLLECTIVELY WITH THEIR EMPLOYER ARE FIRE FIGHTERS AND POLICE OFFICERS WHO ARE EMPLOYED BY A POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THE STATE.  THIS OF COURSE INCLUDES THOSE FIRE FIGHTERS OR POLICE OFFICERS WHO ARE EMPLOYED BY MUNICIPALITIES.  HOWEVER, THE RIGHT TO BARGAIN IS NOT AUTOMATIC FOR THOSE EMPLOYEES.  

    THIS RIGHT MUST BE GIVEN TO THE FIRE FIGHTERS AND POLICE OFFICERS BY A VOTE OF THE CITIZENS OF THE POLITICAL SUBDIVISION THROUGH A SPECIAL REFERENDUM ELECTION HELD IN ACCORDANCE WITH CHAPTER 174, TEXAS LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE “FIRE AND POLICE EMPLOYEE RELATIONS ACT”.

     THE “FIRE AND POLICE EMPLOYEE RELATIONS ACT” WAS ENACTED BY THE TEXAS LEGISLATURE IN 1973.  PROVISIONS OF THE ACT HAVE BEEN ADOPTED BY 17 TEXAS CITIES WHEREIN IT APPLIES TO FIRE FIGHTERS AND ABOUT 30 TEXAS CITIES WHEREIN IT APPLIES TO POLICE OFFICERS.

    QUESTIONS ABOUT COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

    1. HOW WAS COLLECTIVE BARGAINING ADOPTED IN GALVESTON?

    A PETITION WAS DRAWN UP AND CIRCULATED BY THE CITY'S PUBLIC SERVANTS AND VOTED ON BY THE CITIZENS OF GALVESTON. THE MAJORITY OF THE CITIZENS VOTED FOR THE ADOPTION OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING, AND IT BECAME EFFECTIVE IN GALVESTON IN 1983.

    2. WHAT ARE THE MANDATORY REQUIREMENTS OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING?

    COLLECTIVE BARGAINING ONLY CONTAINS TWO ABSOLUTE REQUIREMENTS. FIRST, BOTH PARTIES MUST SIT DOWN AND NEGOTIATE FOR 60 DAYS.  SECONDLY, IT REQUIRES EACH PARTY TO ATTEMPT IN GOOD FAITH TO REACH AN AGREEMENT.

    3. DOES COLLECTIVE BARGAINING REQUIRE EITHER PARTY TO MAKE CONCESSIONS OR ACCEPT A PROPOSAL?

    THE ANSWER IS NO.  THE ACT SPECIFICALLY STATES THAT NEITHER PARTY IS REQUIRED TO MAKE CONCESSIONS OR ACCEPT A PROPOSAL.

    4. DOES COLLECTIVE BARGAINING ALLOW EMPLOYEES TO STRIKE?

    THE ANSWER IS NO.  IT ABSOLUTELY FORBIDS AN EMPLOYEE FROM TAKING PART IN A WORK STOPPAGE, WORK SLOWDOWN OR ANY OTHER TYPE OF JOB ACTION.    IT PROVIDES THAT ANY EMPLOYEE TAKING PART IN AN ILLEGAL JOB ACTION WILL RECEIVE HARSH PUNISHMENT FOR THEIR PARTICIPATION.

    5. IF THE PARTIES DO NOT REACH AN AGREEMENT BEFORE THE EXPIRATION OF THE 60 DAY PERIOD WHERE EACH PARTY IS REQUIRED TO NEGOTIATE IN GOOD FAITH, WHAT STEPS MAY BE TAKEN TO RESOLVE THE IMPASSE?

    COLLECTIVE BARGAINING PROVIDES FOR (1) VOLUNTARY MEDIATION AND (2) VOLUNTARY ARBITRATION.  IN EACH CASE, THE METHOD OF RESOLUTION IS STRICTLY  VOLUNTARY.  EACH PARTY MUST VOLUNTARILY AGREE TO MEDIATION AND/OR ARBITRATION.  FOR AN ARBITRATION AWARD TO BE BINDING, THE EMPLOYER AND THE EMPLOYEE’S REPRESENTATIVE BOTH HAVE TO AGREE IN ADVANCE THAT THE DECISION WILL BE BINDING.

    6. WHAT ABOUT THE PROVISION THAT ALLOWS THE EMPLOYEE’S REPRESENTATIVE TO PETITION THE STATE DISTRICT COURT TO CURE THE IMPASSE SHOULD THE EMPLOYER DECLINE TO ARBITRATE?

    THIS PROVISION IS RARELY USED, AND ONLY THEN IN A SEVERE CASE WHERE A COMPLETE BREAKDOWN OF NEGOTIATIONS HAS TAKEN PLACE.  NOTE: THIS HAS NEVER BEEN USED IN THE CITY OF GALVESTON

    7. IF THE RIGHT TO STRIKE IS PROHIBITED, ARBITRATION IS VOLUNTARY, AND IF INVOKING THE SECTION PROVIDING JUDICIAL INTERVENTION IS NOT DESIRED, WHAT MEANS IS THERE OF RESOLVING AN IMPASSE?

    THE ANSWER IS GOOD FAITH BARGAINING COMBINED WITH POLITICS.

    8. WHO WOULD REPRESENT EMPLOYEES AT COLLECTIVE BARGAINING?

    COLLECTIVE BARGAINING SPECIFIES THAT THE MAJORITY OF THE AFFECTED EMPLOYEES ARE TO ELECT A BARGAINING AGENT.  THIS COULD BE A LABOR UNION, OR ANY PERSON OR OTHER ENTITY THAT DOES NOT CLAIM THE RIGHT TO STRIKE.

    9. WILL TAXES GO UP?

    THE ANSWER IS NO.  REMEMBER, NOTHING IN IT REQUIRES THAT EITHER PARTY MAKE CONCESSION OR ACCEPT ANY PROPOSAL. THE CITY WILL RETAIN THEIR LOCAL CONTROL.

    So, what’s in it for Fire Fighters and Police Officers?

    THE ANSWER IS SIMPLE – A MORE STABLE AND SECURE WORK ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH EMPLOYEES ARE TRULY CONSIDERED TO BE  THE HIGHLY TRAINED PROFESSIONALS THAT THEY REALLY ARE!!  THIS RESULTS IN A MORE EFFICIENT SERVICE TO THE CITIZENS.




    Page Last Updated: Jan 14, 2015 (16:35:32)
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