Skip to main content

Collective Bargaining Negotiations and the Duty to Bargain in Good Faith


       This section addresses the framework in which employee organizations and employers operate when they engage in negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement. Required subjects of bargaining, prohibited unilateral changes by employers, elements of good faith bargaining, and dispute resolution procedures are discussed in detail for each of the labor relations statutes in Vermont. Also, this section addresses the duty of parties to bargain during the term of a contract. Developed precedents exist in each of these areas primarily through the unfair labor practice jurisdiction of the Labor Relations Board. 

      A threshold issue which has arisen in unfair labor practice cases decided by the Board is the ability of an individual employee to prevail on a claim that an employer has refused to bargain collectively in good faith with the exclusive bargaining agent. The Board has held in several cases that an allegation that an employer should have negotiated an alleged improper unilateral change with the union representing employees is appropriately brought by the union representing employees, not an individual employee represented by the union, and has declined to issue unfair labor practice complaints where the employees’ exclusive bargaining agent is not a party to the charge alleging such violations. [1]

Scope of Bargaining

Elements of Good Faith Bargaining

Dispute Resolution Procedures, The Right to Strike and Unilateral Changes

Bargaining Duty During Term of Contract

[1] Benabe v. Green Mountain Transit, 33 VLRB 501 (2016) Bergeron v. Chittenden County Transportation Authority, 33 VLRB 42 (2014). Fouts v. Chittenden County Transportation Authority, 32 VLRB 27 (2012). Davis v. Town of Williston, 32 VLRB 436 (2011). Ashley v. Town of Colchester, 23 VLRB 238 (2000). Hurley v. Dr. Richard Brothers, Superintendent of Rutland Public Schools, 15 VLRB 422, 423 (1992).