Glossary of collective bargaining terms

The following definitions of collective bargaining terminology are provided as a resource guide.

Advisory Arbitration — Arbitration in which the decision of an arbitrator is not binding.

Binding arbitration — Arbitration in which the parties have to agree in advance to be bound by the decision of the arbitrator. Unions on strike may request this method of reaching an agreement. School boards usually refuse to go to binding arbitration because it abdicates their responsibility to determine how school funds are spent and for determining district policies.

ERB Board — The Employment Relations Board (ERB) is a three-member board appointed by the governor to administer and interpret the collective bargaining law. One member represents labor; one, management. The third member is “neutral.” Members serve four-year terms.

Class size — At the elementary grade levels, the determination of the maximum number of students in a classroom. At the middle and high school grade levels, class size is the maximum number of students a teacher will teach per day. Class size is considered a bargaining issue by the union because it impacts the amount of work a teacher does. However, the 1995 revisions to the state collective bargaining law make class size a permissive subject of bargaining.

Confidential employees — Support personnel who work directly with individuals who formulate, determine and affect management policies related to collective bargaining.

CPI — Consumer Price Index is a federal index of food, clothing and housing costs compared with costs for the same items at
the same time the previous year. These 12-month comparisons are usually the reference used for salary increases.

Cooling-off period — A 30-day period which starts with the State Mediation and Conciliation Service’s publication of the parties’ final offers, or if fact-finding is used, after publication of the factfinder’s report.

Due process — The ability of an employee to respond to charges related to conduct or job performance before any disciplinary measures are taken.

Exclusive representative — The labor organization which, as a result of certification by the Employment Relations Board or recognition by the employer, has the right to be the collective bargaining agent for all employees in a bargaining unit.

Fair share — An agreement between the public employer and the bargaining agent that requires employees in a bargaining unit who are not union members to make an in-lieu-of-dues payment to the union.

Fringe Benefits — Include medical, dental, vision and longterm disability insurance premium payments, early retirement payments, paid holidays, paid sick leave, paid vacations and other benefit or payroll costs.

Grievance — An alleged violation, misinterpretation or misapplication of a provision of the collective bargaining agreement. The claim follows a process outlined in the collective bargaining agreement.

Impasse — Anytime after 15 days of mediation, either of the parties or the mediator can declare impasse. Each party then submits a final offer to the mediator.

Implementation of final offer — After the 30-day cooling-off period following publication of the parties’ final offers, or factfinding report, if fact-finding is used, the school board has the option of implementing its final offer, providing it gives the union at least five days advance notice. The notice must include a statement of the terms and conditions that will be implemented such as the district’s last salary and fringe benefit proposals. The terms and conditions cannot include any new proposals.

Increment Steps — The dollar difference between the vertical or horizontal steps on a salary schedule. Teachers move one step vertically each year for experience. Horizontal movement is related to college work and degrees earned. The increment is generally in addition to any base salary increase negotiated in a contract.

Informational picketing — A union activity which involves carrying signs or placards that draw attention to or otherwise emphasize the issue(s) in dispute between the parties. Informational picketing may occur at any time during negotiations.

Just Cause — Discipline or dismissal for unsatisfactory job performance once the district meets the following prerequisites: advance notice of expected standards of conduct and penalties for failure to meet those standards; an investigation before final action, including the employee’s response; progressive discipline, when appropriate; even-handed application of disciplinary action for like offenses and consideration of any mitigating circumstances.

Proposal — Suggested contract language given verbally or in writing by either side during negotiations regarding a particular issue or subject.

Representation election — A process where employees vote for a particular labor union to become their exclusive representative or vote for “no representation.”

RIF — Reduction-in-force or lay-off procedures. (ORS 342.934)

Self-help — A point in the dispute resolution process, after the expiration of the cooling-off period, when an employer may implement its final offer or the labor union may strike.

Scope of bargaining — Defines issues which are prohibited, permissive or mandatory subjects of bargaining.

  • Prohibited subjects of bargaining are contrary to state or federal law or regulations. For example, when a teachers’ union proposed a definition of seniority — for layoff and recall purposes — that differed from the definition contained in state law, ORS 342.934 (3)(c), ERB ruled this was a prohibited subject of bargaining and could not be included in a contract. Prohibited subjects generally are easy to identify during the bargaining process. As a result, ERB issues few rulings concerning them.
  • Permissive subjects of bargaining may be talked about by either party but neither party is required to do so. The union cannot strike over a permissive subject. Contract provisions governing permissive subjects expire when the contract expires. A permissive subject does not become mandatory simply because it was included in a prior contract. During negotiations for a new contract, the parties again are free to talk — or not talk — about the subject. Class size and job descriptions are examples of permissive subjects of bargaining.
  • Mandatory subjects of bargaining must be discussed but the parties are not required to agree to any particular proposal during negotiations. Mandatory subjects are the six specifically listed items in ORS 243.650 (7) and any others that fit within the phrase other conditions of employment, also contained in ORS 243.650 (7).

Single column salary schedule — A rearrangement of the traditional multi-step, multi-column salary schedule into a single vertical column of 12 to 15 steps. Proposed starting and top salaries are higher than current salaries and the increments (difference between steps) are two to three times greater than current salary schedules. Teachers, regardless of their education, move up on a single column salary schedule based solely on their length of employment with a district. In some instances a second column, with higher salary levels, is added to recognize teachers who have master’s degrees.

Ten-day notice — Notice given by a union to an employer naming a date when employees will strike and specifying the reasons for the strike. The notice must be given at least 10 full days in advance of the actual strike date.

Unfair labor practice (ULP) — A charge filed with the Employment Relations Board (ERB) by one party against the other alleging a violation of the collective bargaining law.

UniServe Rep — An area representative of the Oregon Education Association used by local teacher associations and OEA affiliated classified employee associations to assist them with bargaining and other contract-related concerns.

Wall-to-Wall Unit — When both the district’s licensed employees and classified employees are covered by the same contract and represented by the same bargaining agent. Wall-to-wall units are allowed for districts with fewer than 50 employees or for those districts which had wall-to-wall units in place prior to implementation of the 1995 changes.

Work to the rule — Working strictly according to provisions of a collective bargaining contract. Union members refuse to perform work beyond what is required in the contract. Work to the rule is legal only if employees continue to honor contractual requirements.

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