Bargaining Without the Union

One listener wants to know her rights to ask for a raise if she’s part of a union. I’m Amy E. Feldman.

Margaret works in food service at a school district in Pennsylvania, and her division is part of a union that’s signed a contract all the way through 2025.  But Margaret’s department’s salaries are well below market rates. She wants to know whether she has to go through the union to discuss her salary concerns or if she can just reach out to management directly. 

Well, according to Anthony Haller at the law firm of Blank Rome, unfortunately, unless the collective bargaining agreement permits an individual to maintain bargaining power, the answer’s no. That’s because once employees become unionized, the union becomes the exclusive bargaining agent, and during the term of a collective bargaining agreement, unless it’s permitted by that agreement, management’s prohibited from bargaining with an individual. Margaret, you do have the right to talk to your union rep. Or you can vote with your feet by looking for a job in a better paid district.

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