Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Collective Bargaining Agreements Work

How Collective Bargaining Agreements Work: Author’s Note

The most fascinating thing I learned when researching this article is that the collective bargaining process doesn't require the two sides to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. It only requires that the parties work "in good faith" with the intention of finding middle ground. If the parties fail to reach an agreement in good faith, then -- and only then -- can workers strike or an organization issue a lockout order. I was also shocked to hear about the dangerous working conditions under which men, women and children were forced to labor in the 19th century without any right to bargain for a better life.


  • American Experience. PBS. "The Homestead Strike." (Accessed March 30, 2011)
  • Center for Labor Education and Research. University of Hawaii. "Collective Bargaining FAQs" (Accessed March 30, 2011)
  • Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations. The Triangle Factory Fire. "Triangle Factory Fire and the ILGWU." (Accessed March 29, 2011)
  • Memoli, Michael A. "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's standing is eroding, opponents, say, citing poll." Los Angeles Times, February 22, 2011.
  • National Labor Relations Board. FAQs. "How is 'good faith bargaining' determined?"
  • National Labor Relations Board. "Employer/Union Rights and Obligations"
  • Woolley, John T. and Peters, Gerhard. The American Presidency Project. "John F. Kennedy"