The ABC's of Bargaining

Q: What is a collective bargaining agreement?

A: A collective bargaining agreement is a contract signed by the company and Union that sets our wages, benefits and other conditions of work, such as scheduling, time-off, seniority rights and our grievance and arbitration procedure.

Q: Why is having a collective bargaining agreement important?

A: Bargaining a collective agreement with a union is the best way to ensure workers have a strong and united voice in their working conditions. Without a contract in place, management can decide on their own to cut wages and benefits, fire employees, play favorites, change schedules and holidays, or make other changes that can harm workers, and workers would not have any effective way to challenge what the company has done.

With our collective bargaining agreement, we not only guarantee that we have a real say in the bargaining process, but we also have a grievance and arbitration procedure that protects us from violations of our contract rights and allows us to hold the company accountable when they’ve broken our contract.

Q: When does our contract expire?

A: Both our National and Local Agreements expire on September 30, 2018.

Q: What does our contract negotiation look like?

A: In order to best meet the needs of our members and KP, our new alliance of like-minded unions will utilize an Interest Based Negotiations Tool. The national agreement focuses on items such as wages, healthcare and pension. This new alliance is deeply committed to each other and will enable us to win a new gold standard contract. Details regarding National and Local Bargaining are forthcoming.

Q: How do we get a good contract with KP?

A: The Union has a strategic partnership with KP. The best way to strengthen this partnership is to show that we are united for top-quality patient care and dignity in our workplace. In order to get a fair and equitable contract that addresses the needs of our members, we need to build and use our bargaining power. Bargaining power is the ability of our Union to achieve our bargaining goals and strengthen our contract. It comes from our solidarity – our determination and willingness to stick together to achieve our goals.

Q: How do negotiations work?

A: Negotiations take place at the bargaining table where representatives from the company and our Union come together to put forth and discuss proposals that address issues of KP and frontline employees. Both sides caucus (meet separately), make counter proposals, test out ideas and look for ways to bridge differences. The goal is to reach a tentative agreement that will be submitted to union members for approval.

Q: What kinds of proposals are discussed?

Generally, contract proposals fall into one of two categories:

  1. Economic proposals, such as wages, paid time off, health insurance, pensions or S&A benefits, or
  2. Non-economic items, such as safety standards, seniority, and the grievance and arbitration procedure.

Q: Do members get to vote on a tentative agreement?

A: Union members in good standing may vote to ratify or reject a tentative agreement. Your bargaining committee may make a recommendation regarding a proposed agreement.

Q: What happens if we don’t finish negotiations before the contract expiration date?

A: If the company and the Union have not reached an agreement by the contract expiration date, we each have three options.

The Union can:

  1. Negotiate an extension of the old contract, or
  2. Continue to work while we increase pressure on management and build power for bargaining, or 
  3. Strike.

Similarly, the company can:

  1. Negotiate an extension of the old contract, or
  2. Continue to operate while negotiating with the Union, or
  3. Lock out the bargaining unit.

Without an agreed-upon extension, many terms of conditions of employment remain the same even after contract expiration. Articles in the contract that would NOT be in effect include management rights, no strike and no lockout language, arbitration for new grievances.

Q: Who bargains the contract?

A: Our Union is represented in negotiation by representatives from our local union USW Local 7600 and USW International staff

Q: How do I find out what’s happening at the bargaining table?

A: Sign up to receive text message updates on your cell phone. Send the text message USW7600 to 47486. Message and data rates may apply. You can opt out any time by texting “stop” to 47486.

Q: What can I do to ensure we get a good contract?

A: Stay informed!

Sign up for text updates; look for announcements and materials from members in your work area; check back here often and like our union on Facebook.

Fill out a bargaining survey. We want to hear from you!

Volunteer to be on the Communication and Action Team (CAT) to help distribute updates and other materials.

Be prepared to participate in solidarity actions like wearing a sticker to show KP we are united!