Collective Bargaining 2: Behavioral Factors Influencing Union Bargaining Power

Organizational and institutional framework for bargaining

Organizational and institutional framework for bargaining

Not all local unions approach the collective bargaining process from the same scope of institutional power. In some cases, a local may be responsible for all aspects of the bargaining process with the international union filling only an advisory, consultative or oversight function. In other situations, the bulk of the contract may be negotiated at the international union level with a relatively narrow scope of bargaining left to local negotiations. Many locals will find their position between these extremes. There is no single model nor is there a best model for the relationship between a local union and its parent organization. Different bargaining structures exist in different sectors of the economy and in different international unions as a result of historical, economic and other institutional concerns.

It is important, however, that local leadership be aware of the institutional framework within which negotiations take place. No matter where within a particular bargaining relationship the center of bargaining power resides, there will be a significant role for the local union, its leaders and bargaining committee. The challenge to the local is to maintain its focus on those aspects of bargaining that are the responsibility of the local. Little is gained by directing undue attention to matters beyond the scope of the local's responsibility.