The Collective Bargaining Process - Getting to a Contract
Once a group begins the organizing process, the employer and others may
try to present a jaded view of collective bargaining. The legal perspective
is that the National Labor Relations Act requires employers to bargain in
good faith with the certified bargaining representative of their employees
over all terms and conditions of employment for the purpose of reaching a
collective bargaining agreement. The representation process is started
when Physicians for Responsible Negotiation (PRN) petitions the National
Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to conduct a secret-ballot election. Once
the election is completed, the employer will no longer be able to give mere
passing attention to employees’ concerns. Rather, employers will be
legally obligated to meet with PRN and employees at a bargaining table,
negotiate in good faith and then sign a contract that will be legally binding
Employees will collectively decide what goes into the contract proposals.
PRN will be the voice and the instrument for change, but employees,
alone, will control specific bargaining proposals. By the time PRN is
elected to represent a group of employed physicians, we will have met
with each employee to discuss his/her concerns and we will have prepared
a model contract to submit to the employer immediately after the election.
Unlike individual contracts, a collective bargaining agreement is
supported by federal law and an employer cannot unilaterally take it away.
As the collective bargaining agent, PRN will be the voice that an employer
is legally obligated to listen to and respond to in good faith negotiations.
Unfortunately, in the modern health care system, employers often pay
more attention to the bottom-line business concerns of administrators and
accountants than to the patient and practice concerns raised by physicians.
Often, physicians are not even consulted when major decisions that affect
health care are being discussed. This deprives patients of their traditional
advocate, their own doctor. PRN will negotiate a contract that will get
employees a seat at the table to ensure that they are heard when the
health care decisions such as HMO reformation and pharmacy formulary
are being made.
PRN believes that collective bargaining works and that uncommonly good
results can be obtained when physicians stand together and insist that their
employer listens to their concerns. Both patients and physicians will
benefit when these concerns are incorporated into a legally binding