Collective bargaining is the process by which negotiations between an employer and their employees are undertaken. Collective bargaining is aimed at reaching agreements that seek to regulate working conditions set, discuss wage scales, working hours safety of employees, their training and health among others. It is a process that seeks to assert employees right to participate in the companies or workplace affairs thus promoting comfort in ones workplace. Collective bargaining is a rightful process expressly provided for by the universal declaration of human rights. It identifies the ability to organize trade unions as a fundamental right and also acknowledges the right of collective bargaining as an essential right of workers which is undeniable (Silver 2000).
According to (Hilgert, 2006), over the years collective bargaining by teachers has ascended relatively to a prominent height as far as public education is concerned. It has been an ongoing process which has evolved continually thereby gaining more protections for the members as well as making working conditions for educators better over time. The benefits and achievement of the teacher’s unionization and collective bargaining are uncontested as they have promoted tremendous improvement of the teachers working conditions and thereby restoring the dignity of teachers.
Collective bargaining with ones employer enhances human dignity which asserts self worth, liberty and autonomy of professionals. This therefore gives them the opportunity to influence the establishment of their workplace rules which gives them the right and sense of power to control a major aspect of their lives, which is their work in their workplaces. Collective bargaining is not only a tool of pursuing self interest but also a rather intrinsically valuable aspect that gives professionals an experience of self governance thereby asserting self worth. It also allows workers to achieve from their workplaces as it provides a democratic atmosphere that ensures rules are followed in the workplace. Workers also gain a voice which helps influence the establishment of rules that control a major aspect of their lives. The importance of teacher’s unionization and collective bargaining therefore is an important achievement to teachers as professionals and also to the school systems which helps create a conducive learning environment (Duckhan, 2011).
The teachers union only demands the rightfully earned right of teachers based on the longevity and willingness to serve loyally in their profession. By allowing these collective bargaining unions of teachers to operate it will serve to increase the effectiveness of teachers in their profession, which is why they demand to be treated as respectable professionals. Union leaders are elected by teachers to protect their interest which basically is the fundamental and legitimate reason for formation of unions. They are set up to protect the interests of their members while the primary function of management is to represent the basic interests of the trade which is learning and teaching (Cohen, Walsh, Biddle, 2008).
These collective bargaining agreements by teachers make them partners in educational improvement. This is based on the premise that a comfortable teacher is more likely to perform well than a restricted teacher as they can be able to enjoy doing their work. These agreements give teachers a say concerning their pay, how they are assigned to schools, elaborates on the conditions under which they can be disciplined or fired, and the length of school hours among other provisions. This therefore helps ensure that the teachers understand the terms of their contracts and thus are comfortable carrying out their teaching tasks and thus able to perform effectively which is indicated by improved student performance (Hannaway & Rotherharn2006).
Collective bargaining helps protect salaries and improve working conditions. Through collective bargaining teachers can achieve privileges like paid leaves as ones employer is not obliged to provide paid time off when one is sick unless it had previously been agreed upon by the collective bargaining unions. Any retirement gratuity, among other payments that one receives is attributed to the negotiations reached at the bargaining table. The working conditions of teachers, safety and comfort is ensured by the collective bargaining unions. For example it stipulates the length of a working day which protects the teacher from exploitation.
Schools with unionized teachers exhibit better performance in standard exams. This is attributed to the collective bargaining unions of teachers whom through negotiation have ensured that teachers have more leverage over conclusions that impact on school performance such the class size, teacher training, social support, academic resources among others than non union teachers (silver 2000).
According to (Hilgert, 2006), collective bargaining allows teacher to enjoy the professional respect accorded to their work without having to worry about the infrastructure of their work. This means that teachers can effectively carry out their duties as they are well secured in terms of their employment contracts and also their terms of work. This agreement also seeks to protect teachers from abuse. It ensures that teachers are not afraid to live their lives by being placed in institutions where students are hostile while also protecting them from head teachers who take it upon themselves to ruin the lives of teachers which can easily occur without these unions.(silver 2000).
Collective bargaining helps fill in blanks within the existing laws. Teachers are not wholly protected by the law and thus collective bargaining by the union of teachers addresses other specific areas that concern teachers which are not protected by the law. These include areas like the stipulation of the minimum wage and the maximum hours of working. Collective agreements seek to give additional protection to its members beyond what is already provided by the human rights law which include occupational health and safety in legislation among others. An example of such bargains is like the advancement t of proposal to help protect teachers from communicable disease which could be contracted in their work places for example the fifth disease (silver 2000).
Collective bargaining responds to the realities of life as it is flexible. The changing times which are characterized by changing economies, technology and new challenges of life provide grounds for new bargains that would ensure that the teachers are put in positions whereby they can cope with the changing trends (Duckhan, 2011). By beginning to build protections into collective agreements this is ensured and thus teachers are not left to work in strenuous environments which can be demoralizing. In the wake of changing economic times negotiations of salary increment become inevitable as this is in response to the increasing cost of living which affects teachers too. Thereby collective agreements are able to ensure that teachers working environment remains conducive thus promoting effective working (Hess 2000).
Collective bargaining by teachers is a historical event that seeks to lay better terms for the future generation of teachers just as the present have gained from the struggles of the former teachers. Therefore the formation and continuation of the teachers bargaining unions is seen as a noble act which not only justifies it but also restores dignity to the teaching profession. The struggle to provide the best possible working conditions and compensation for teachers is a never ending process as new challenges to this profession arise over the years. Once a concept is bargained into the agreement, it not only improves the present but also provides for its improvement and strengthening in the subsequent bargains (Nakruhub, 2007).
Collective bargaining determines how jobs are allocated. Without these unions teachers may not have a say on issues like transfers, climbing the seniority ladder, and lay off provisions among others addressed by the union. These are some of the questions collective bargaining addresses to create transparency in such activities which makes it easier for teachers to operate. These unions address other issues like the right of part time teachers and those of occasional teachers. They also address the size of the call list and ensure ones right to stay on it as well as posting and location of long term positions which are all items of bargain (Hess, 2000).
The activities of collective bargaining of the teachers unions ensure teachers stability and commitment which are essential characteristics of an effective teacher. Various benefits as well as higher wages are motivating factors in any career which are gains achieved as a result of a well negotiated grievance procedures which are obtained through unionization and this ensures the creation of conducive working environment that is performance boosting (silver 2000).
Several provisions may be negotiated in collective bargaining. Teachers unions and school districts can be able to reach amicable solutions in their differences of opinion as far as subjects are concerned. Some subjects are made mandatory while others are merely permitted or even prohibited by the existing laws. The state through its laws take it upon itself to decide the appropriateness of subjects to be bargained and the issues addressed are for instance academic freedom, wages and salaries, curriculum, training hours and workload assigned to teachers among others grievances (Silva 2000).
Collective bargaining bodies of the teachers not only are they bodies that represents the interests of teachers but also an exercise of the freedom provided by the bill of rights which expressly provides that the congress shall not form laws which expressly prohibit the right of people to assemble peacefully which justifies the formation of these unions as they assert the democratic rights of citizens. However the constitution denies the teachers the constitutional right to strikes and thus collective bargaining efforts is the only way that the teachers can present their grievances and thus seek audience with the state and thereby able to achieve their desired working conditions (Duckhan, 2011).
Collective bargaining balances power governing both the employer and the employee. As an individual one cannot be able to bargain for better pay and improved working conditions as they can easily be dismissed by their employer. However unionization provides for a greater force hence stronger bargain power which is mostly effective. This collective bargaining in teachers unions provides a strong front that is powerful and efficient in representing their demands and thus effective in improving their working conditions (Carrel & Hearin, 2006).
Collective bargaining of the teachers union provides an essential feature in the concept of social partnership which is a healthy breeding ground for improved labor relations thus important. These collective bargaining bodies get employers onto agreeing to better working condition of teachers and this subsequently leads to development of mutual respect between the employer and the employees thus providing a conducive learning environment as the rules are effective on both side thus the rights of every actor is protected (Duckhan, 2011).
Collective bargaining increases the morale and productivity of teachers as well as stabilizing the union membership. Due to the gains of the struggle advanced by these unions the members are more comfortable in their working environments and as such their morale to work and bear positive results is boosted. Solidarity within the union is also gained as the teachers are able to gain from it unlike when they would be bargaining on personal basis.
In conclusion according to (Nelson, Rosen & Powel, 2000), the public school system is a very important institution established to cater for the education of students from different backgrounds in the diverse communities. To provide quality education which these children desperately need, requires that the state and school system adopt and respond effectively to pervasive and difficult social conditions that affect teachers. Therefore fragmenting the system, cutting on resources, and jeopardizing the welfare and stability of the teaching staff by denying them the right to associate and present collective demands or even critiquing and watering down the activities of these unions that seek to improve their working conditions, will not only hurt the student performance but also will not further the goal of achieving academic excellence.