Collective Bargaining for Professionals Results in Workplace Gains

The Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE) has released a new, updated version of its “The Benefits of Collective Bargaining for Professionals” fact sheet. The fact sheet examines DPE affiliates’ collective bargaining agreements for a variety of different professionals — including musicians, journalists, and librarians — and highlights pay, benefit, and working condition improvements gained through collective bargaining.

The fact sheet provides specific examples of compensation and benefit improvements, like minimum salaries and annual pay increases, overtime pay, and merit pay. Some collective bargaining provisions highlighted include:

· Baltimore Symphony Orchestra musicians, who are members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Local 40–543, have a minimum salary requirement of $1,591.00 per week due to their collective bargaining agreement.

· Broadcast technicians at CBS are represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and their collective bargaining agreement provides for overtime pay of one-half times their regular pay for any time worked in excess of an eight-hour day.

· Professionals working for the non-profit Center for American Progress are represented by International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) Local 70 and receive annual minimum pay increases, but also have a secure pool of money for merit pay increases.

Additionally, the fact sheet looks at non-compensation contract provisions. For example, provisions related to adequate staffing, job safety, and industry diversity. These include:

· Registered nurses at Brooklyn’s Lutheran Medical Center are represented by the United Federation of Teachers, a chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and had a collective bargaining agreement requiring the medical center to hire 25 additional nurses to address understaffing.

· Theater actors represented by Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) have a collective bargaining agreement with the League of Resident Theaters that provides for preventative physical therapy for choreography-heavy performances that last longer than eight weeks.

· The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE)-represented editorial staff at The Huffington Post have a collective bargaining agreement that aims to increase diversity in the newsroom with provisions like a system for posting jobs and a diversity committee.

A key component of collective bargaining agreements is due process or a process to resolve disputes that ensures fair and equal treatment during the arbitration process. Many misunderstand due process clauses, viewing them as pieces of union contracts that are meant to protect poor performing workers — which they are not. Instead, due process provisions in collective bargaining agreements are similar to the due process protections laid out in the U.S. Constitution, in that they protect professionals from unfair, unilateral actions by their employer. The updated fact sheet thoroughly explains due process and highlights a few examples of due process provisions in collective bargaining agreements.

Those interested in getting a full picture of how collective bargaining improves the lives of professionals should check out the complete fact sheet.

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