Parallel or Pattern Bargaining17th October 2020
Parallel bargaining is bargaining in which unions negotiate provisions covering wages and other benefits that are similar to those provided in other agreements within the industry or region. It is also called pattern bargaining.
In parallel or pattern bargaining, a union determines a sequence for negotiations with firms within an industry where the agreement with the first firm becomes the take-it-or-leave-it offer by the union for all subsequent negotiations. For example, a union might target company, push hard for the best contract it could get and declare the new terms to be the “pattern.” If the other companies in that industry didn’t follow suit, labor unrest would likely follow.
Pattern bargaining is a process in labour relations, where a trade union gains a new and superior entitlement from one employer and then uses that agreement as a precedent to demand the same entitlement or a superior one from other employers.
In the United States, pattern bargaining was pioneered by unions such as the United Auto Workers and the Teamsters. The first step of the bargaining process is the identification of a target employer that is most likely to agree to a favourable employment contract. For the selected company, this provides an opportunity to influence the contract for the industry, while the downside is the risk of a labour disruption if negotiations stall or fail. Once this contract has been successfully negotiated and ratified by the unionized workers, the union declares it a “pattern agreement” and presents it to the other employers as a take-it-or-leave-it offer.
In Australia, pattern bargaining was specifically outlawed under the now-repealed WorkChoices legislation. The law was repealed by the Labor Party after their victory in the 2007 election, but Labor’s Fair Work Act, which came into force on 1 July 2010, still outlaws pattern bargaining.