The collective bargaining process has five main steps; we will discuss each of these steps next. The
first step is the preparation of both parties. The negotiation team should consist of individuals with
knowledge of the organization and the skills to be an effective negotiator. An understanding of the
working conditions and dissatisfaction with working conditions is an important part of this
preparation step. Establishing objectives for the negotiation and reviewing the old contract are key
components to this step. Both sides should also prepare and anticipate demands, to better prepare
The second step of the process involves both parties agreeing on how the timelines will be set for the
negotiations. In addition, setting ground rules for how the negotiation will occur is an important step, as it
lays the foundation for the work to come.
In the third step, each party comes to the table with proposals. It will likely involve initial opening
statements and options that exist to resolve any situations that exist. The key to a successful proposal is to
come to the table with a “let’s make this work” attitude. An initial discussion is had and then each party
generally goes back to determine which requests it can honor and which it can’t. At this point, another
meeting is generally set up to continue further discussion.
Once the group comes to an agreement or settlement (which may take many months and proposals), a
new contract is written and the union members vote on whether to accept the agreement. If the union
doesn’t agree, then the process begins all over again.