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Agency shop

Clause that states that even if workers do not join the union, they must still pay the equivalent of dues to the union.

Agent-principal relationship

Principle under which regulations that apply to employers and unions also apply to acts of their agents.

Ally doctrine

States that when a struck employer effectively uses the employees of an ally as strike breakers and when a union extends its primary picketing to this employer, no violation of the LMRA's secondary boycott prohibitions exists.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR)

Umbrella term used to describe a number of problem-solving and grievance resolution approaches.


Procedure in which disputes are submitted to one or more impartial persons for final determination.

Attorney work product

Materials used in preparing a legal case (e.g., written reports, notes, data); usually excluded from discovery phase.

Authorization cards

Cards signed by employees to indicate that they want union representation.


Union practice of displaying a banner outside the property of an employer to advertise union's message.

Bargaining unit

Group of employees a union wants to represent.


Giving more-senior workers whose jobs have been eliminated the right to transfer into jobs of less-senior workers.

"Cat's paw" principle

Legal principle in which, for example, an HR department is culpable for discrimination even though HR had no desire to discriminate, such as when HR is persuaded to take an adverse action against an employee with protected status by other biased employees who wish to discriminate against the individual.

Certification of representative

NLRB certification indicating that a union has won an election and will be the exclusive representative of the bargaining unit.

Certification of results

NLRB certification indicating that a union has lost an election.


As defined by the NLRB, an employer act that will result in hesitation by an employee to exercise protected rights under Section 7 of the NLRA.

Circuit City Stores v. Adams

Case in which Supreme Court ruled that a pre-hire employment application requiring that all employment disputes be settled by arbitration was enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act.

Civil Service Reform Act

Act that extended collective bargaining rights to federal employees.

Clayton Act

Act that minimally restricted the use of injunctions against labor and legalized peaceful strikes, picketing, and boycotts.

Closed shop

Clause that states that union membership is a condition of hiring; is illegal (except in the construction industry).

Coalition bargaining

When more than one employer negotiates with the union; also known as multiple employer bargaining.

Collective bargaining

Process by which management and union representatives negotiate the employment conditions for a particular bargaining unit for a designated period of time.

Collective bargaining agreement (CBA)

Agreement or contract negotiated through collective bargaining process.


Group of people and resources who come together for the accomplishment of a specific organizational objective.

Common law

Dictates that custom and usage have the force of law, even if not specifically found in legislatively enacted, codified, written laws.

Common situs picketing

Situation in which lawful picketing of a primary employer also affects a secondary employer that occupies common premises.

Community of interests

Mutuality of interests among employees in bargaining for wages, hours, and working conditions.

Compressed workweek

Work schedule that compresses a full week's work into fewer than five days.


Method of nonbinding dispute resolution involving a third party who tries to help disputing parties reach a mutually agreeable decision; also known as mediation.

Consent election

Type of representation election that involves an agreement between an employer and a union to waive the preelection hearing.

Consumer picketing

Product boycotts involving such activities as distributing handbills, carrying placards, and urging customers to refuse to purchase products from a particular retail or wholesale business.

Coordinated bargaining

When an employer bargains with several unions simultaneously but on a separate basis.


Removes authority of a bargaining representative in a non-right-to-work state to negotiate or enforce a union security clause.


Means for employees to terminate union representation; removes union from its position as bargaining representative.


Injuring someone's reputation by making a false and malicious statement; may be spoken (slander) or written (libel).

Directed election

Type of representation election ordered by the NLRB regional director after a preelection hearing.

Distributive bargaining

When parties are in conflict over an issue and the outcome represents a gain for one party and a loss for the other; each party tries to negotiate for the best possible outcome.

Double breasting

When a common owner operates both union and nonunion businesses.

Dues checkoff

Where employees agree in writing to an automatic deduction of dues from their paychecks.

Duty of fair representation

Requires that unions act fairly on behalf of the employees they represent in negotiating and administering collective bargaining agreements.

Duty of good faith and fair dealing

Imposes on each party in a contract an obligation for honesty in the conduct of the transaction.

Duty of loyalty

Common-law precept that imposes on employees a duty to be loyal to the employer.

Duty of successor employers or unions

Mutual bargaining obligation of an employer and a union when a majority interest in a unionized company is sold to another employer.

E. I. Dupont & Company

1993 NLRB ruling that held certain employee committees to be illegal because Dupont management circumvented the legally chosen employee representatives and usurped the union's right to represent its members.


1992 court decision that employers must deal cautiously with employee participation committees based on the NLRB's interpretation of what constitutes a company-dominated labor organization.

Employee handbook

Explains major HR and employee policies and procedures and generally describes the employee benefits provided.

Employee involvement (EI)

Planned and orderly attempt to link the shared interests of the employee and the organization for their mutual benefit.

Employee participation programs (EPPs)

Programs to improve communication between employees and management and empower employees in some workplace decisions.

Excelsior List

List the employer has to provide the union with the names and addresses of certain employees within seven days after the direction of or consent to an election.

Express oral contract

Involves verbal promises made between employer and employee related to employment.


Situation in which unions try to require the employment of more workers than is necessary.

Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA)

Administers the provisions of the various executive orders that fall under the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978.

Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS)

Offers assistance in contract settlement and maintains a list of arbitrators to help interpret contract language and resolve disputes.


Work schedule that requires employees to work an established number of hours per week but allows starting and ending times to vary.

Focus group

Small group (normally six to twelve) invited to actively participate in a structured discussion with a facilitator.

Fraudulent misrepresentation

Intentional deception relied upon and resulting in injury to another person.

Gissel order

NLRB order to an employer to bargain with the union as a remedy for serious ULP charges against the employer.

Good-faith bargaining

Generally means that parties in a negotiation enter into discussion with fair and open minds and a sincere desire to arrive at an agreement.

Grievance procedure

Provides an orderly way to resolve differences of opinion in regard to a union contract.

Hot cargo clauses

Agreement that union members are not required to handle goods made by nonunion labor or a struck plant; generally illegal.

Illegal subjects

Those collective bargaining items that are unlawful by statute; also known as external subjects.

Implied contract

Exists when an agreement is implied from circumstances even though there is no express agreement between employer and employee.

Industrial democracy

As related to international labor relations, where employees have legally mandated rights to participate in management decisions.

Inevitable disclosure

Enables an employer to prevent an employee from taking employment with a competitor when the current employer's trade secrets might "inevitably" be disclosed.

Informational picketing

Type of picketing done to advise the public that an employer is nonunion.


Court order that restricts, prevents, or requires certain activities.

Integrative bargaining

Takes place when there is more than one issue to be resolved; focuses on creative solutions to conflicts that reconcile parties' interests and result in mutual benefit.

Interest-based bargaining (IBB)

Form of negotiating where parties look for common ground and attempt to satisfy mutual interests through the bargaining process.

Job sharing

Results when two part-time employees share one full-time job.

Labor organization

Any organization in which employees participate and which exists for the purpose of dealing with employers on work-related issues.

Labor-Management Relations Act (LMRA)

Act that provides balance of power between union and management by designating certain union activities as unfair labor practices; also known as Taft-Hartley Act.

Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA)

Act that protects the rights of union members from corrupt or discriminatory labor unions; also known as Landrum-Griffin Act.

Landrum-Griffin Act

Act that protects the rights of union members from corrupt or discriminatory labor unions; also known as Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA).

Litigation hold

Process of ensuring that any information related to pending (or reasonably anticipated) litigation is identified and preserved without regard to usual document destruction policies or schedules.


Occurs when management shuts down operations to prevent union employees from working.

Maintenance of membership

Contract clause that states that an employee may or may not choose to join a union but once the employee joins, he/she must maintain membership for the duration of the contract.

Mandatory subjects

Collective bargaining items required by law and the NLRB.


Method of nonbinding dispute resolution involving a third party who helps disputing parties reach a mutually agreeable decision; also known as conciliation.

National Industrial Recovery Act

Act that extended the policies of the Railway Labor Act to all interstate commerce organizations.

National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)

Act that protects the rights of employees to organize unhampered by management; also known as Wagner Act.

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)

Agency that has authority to conduct union representation elections and investigate unfair labor practices.

Negligent hiring

Hiring of an employee who the employer knew or should have known, based on a reasonable pre-hire investigation of the employee's background, posed a risk to others in the workplace.

Negligent retention

Retention of employees who engage in misconduct both during and after working hours.

Neutrality/cooperation agreement

Agreement between a union and an employer under which the employer agrees to remain neutral to (i.e., not oppose) a union's attempt to organize its workforce.

"Nip in the bud" cases

NLRB cases involving ULPs during a union's organizing drive that "chill" an organizing effort.

No-lockout clause

Contract stipulation in which the company agrees not to lock out workers during a labor dispute for the life of the contract.

Norris-LaGuardia Act

Act that guarantees workers' right to organize and restricts issuance of court injunctions against peaceful organized labor activity such as strikes, picketing, and boycotts.

No-strike clause

Contract stipulation in which union agrees not to strike during the duration of the contract.

Open shop

Workplace in which union membership (payment of dues) is not required for employee to continue employment beyond 30 days (seven days in the construction industry).

Organizational feedback

Presentation of data to stimulate discussion of problem areas, generate potential solutions, and stimulate motivation for change.

Organizational picketing

Type of picketing done to induce employees to accept a union as their representative.

Pattern bargaining

Takes place when unions negotiate provisions covering wages and other benefits similar to those already provided in other agreements existing within the industry or region; also known as parallel bargaining.

Permissive subjects

Collective bargaining items that may be bargained but are not obligatory; also called voluntary or nonmandatory subjects.

Phased retirement

Offers employees the opportunity to gradually reduce the number of hours they work before they are fully retired.


Broad statement that reflects an organization's philosophy, objectives, or standards concerning a particular set of management or employee activities.

Positional negotiation

Type of contract negotiation in which people lock themselves into positions and find it difficult to move away, parties lose sight of the underlying problems to be resolved, and emphasis is placed on winning the position.

Principled negotiation

Type of contract negotiation based on four premises: 1) separate the people from the problem, 2) focus on interests, not positions, 3) invent options for mutual gain, and 4) insist on objective criteria.


Detailed, step-by-step description of the customary method of handling an activity.

Progressive discipline

System of increasingly severe penalties for employee discipline.

Project team

Group of people who come together for a specific project.

Public policy exception

Exception to doctrine of employment-at-will, holding that employees cannot be fired for fulfilling legal obligations or for exercising legal rights.

Railway Labor Act

Act that originally provided railroad employees the right to organize and bargain collectively; now covers both railroad and airline employees.


When an employer recognizes a union as being entitled to conduct collective bargaining on behalf of workers in a particular bargaining unit.

Recognitional picketing

Picketing done to obtain an employer's recognition of a union as bargaining representative.

Reserved gate

Device used by owner or contractor of a multi-employer work site to isolate pickets of one of these employers with whom a union has a primary dispute.

Reserved rights doctrine

Grants management full authority and discretion over the items that are or could be covered unless the contract limits management's rights in a particular area.

Right to work

Refers to statutes that prohibit unions from making union membership a condition of employment.

Safe harbor

Provision in a law or regulation that provides some measure of protection from liability if certain conditions are met.


Process of using paid union organizers to infiltrate an organization and organize its workers.

Secondary boycotts

When a union attempts to influence an employer by exerting pressure on another employer.

Section 7 rights

Rights under NLRA that allow employees to engage or not engage in union activity.

Segmented bargaining

When employer and union decide to assign specific bargaining issues to committees; proposals are then returned to entire group for decision.

Self-directed team

Group of people that works in a self-managing way; typically assume complete autonomy.

Sherman Anti-Trust Act

Act that curbed concentrations of power that interfered with trade and reduced economic competition; directed at large monopolistic employers but applied by courts to labor unions.

Skill variety

Extent to which a job requires a variety of different activities for successful completion.

Skip-level interviews

Practice in union-free organizations of encouraging managers to spend time with each employee two levels below them on an annual basis.


Refusal by employees to work.

Sympathy strike

Strike by employees of a bargaining unit who refuse to cross picket lines made up of employees who are not members of their bargaining unit.

Taft-Hartley Act

Act that provides balance of power between union and management by designating certain union activities as unfair labor practices; also known as Labor-Management Relations Act (LMRA).

Task force

Temporary allocation of personnel and resources for the accomplishment of a specific objective.

Task identity

Extent to which a job requires a "whole," identifiable unit of work.

Task significance

Extent to which a job has a substantial impact on other people.


Set of two or more people who are equally accountable for accomplishment of a purpose and specific performance goals.


Working via computing and telecommunications equipment.


Acronym used by many labor management attorneys and consultants that covers most of the unfair labor practice pitfalls a supervisor can run into—don't Threaten, Interrogate, Promise, or Spy.

Unfair competition

Deals with employment contracts that contain covenants not to compete after termination of employment relationship and with the use of secret, confidential, or proprietary information that the employee obtained while working for the former employer.

Unfair labor practice (ULP)

Violation of rights under labor-relations statutes.


Formal labor organization that has the right to represent and bargain for a group of employees.

Union security clauses

Provisions in a collective bargaining agreement designed to protect the institutional authority or survival of the union (e.g., making union membership or payment of dues compulsory for all or some of the employees in a bargaining unit).

Union shop

Clause that states that when workers take jobs in a specific bargaining unit, they must join the union and pay union dues within a certain period of time.

Wagner Act

Act that protects the rights of employees to organize unhampered by management; also known as National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Weingarten rights

Union employees' right to have a union representative or coworker present during an investigatory interview.

Wildcat strikes

Work stoppages involving the primary employer-employee relationship that are neither sanctioned nor stimulated by the union and that violate a no-strike clause in the contract.

Work rule

Reflects management decisions regarding specific actions to be taken or avoided in a given situation.

Work team

Group of employees responsible for a given end product.

Yellow-dog contracts

Contracts that force employees to agree not to join a union or participate in any union activity as a condition of employment.

Zipper clause

Contract stipulation in which both parties waive the right to demand bargaining on any matter not dealt with in the contract, whether or not it was contemplated when the contract was negotiated or signed.

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