The right to collectively bargain is the process of negotiating with your employer, through your union, to determine terms of employment which are bound by a negotiated contract. Terms of a negotiated contract may include wages, hours, vacations, benefits, safety standards and more.
The right to collectively bargain is protected by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) passed in 1935. The NLRA encourages private-sector workers to collectively bargain to seek better workplace conditions without fear of retaliation from their employer.
Workers have been organizing for improved wages and working conditions for more than 200 years. The earliest record of worker organizing is the New York journeymen strike of 1768 in which workers protested wage reductions. In 1794, Philadelphia shoemakers formed the first union marking the beginning of sustained union organization in America.
Since then, organized labor has achieved many feats including standardizing the eight-hour day and forty-hour work week, two-day weekends, minimum wage and overtime laws, paid vacations, holiday pay, safety, health requirements and more.
Today, millions of American workers negotiate or renegotiate their union contracts each year. According to a Gallup poll¹ released Aug. 30, 2022, union approval is at its highest point since 1965.