Typically, the employees are represented by a union. Collective bargaining actually begins with joining a union, agreeing to abide by the rules of the union, and electing union representatives. In general, experienced people from the union will assist the employees with putting together a draft of a contract, and will help them present their desires to the company. Numerous meetings between representatives of employer and employees will be held until the two can agree on a contract.
As the contract is being negotiated, general employees also have input on it, through their union officers. Thus, the agreement reflects the combined desires of all the employees, along with limitations that the employer wishes to see put in place. The result is a powerful document which usually reflects cooperative effort. In some cases, however, the union or the employer may resort to antagonistic tactics such as striking or creating a lockout, in order to push the agreement through.
For workers, collective bargaining is an excellent tool. Many workplaces benefit from unionization, which allows workers to speak together as a body to assert their rights. Employers also benefit from collective bargaining agreements, which set out clear expectations for both sides. The experience of collective bargaining can also be a learning experience for both sides of the discussion, as it encourages employers and employees alike to consider each other’s positions.