It is often difficult to differentiate whether a particular subject is permissive, illegal or mandatory bargaining subject. The reason as to why this problem emanates is that the bargaining subjects in most cases collide with the rights of the management which often belong to the public employer as a matter of public policy or state law (Geel & Imber, 2004). In another observation, it can be seen that the managerial rights and the bargaining rights are inextricably associated.
There have been ways of defining different ways of collective bargaining in order to determine whether it is lawful to negotiate the inclusion of the subjects into the agreements of collective bargaining and whether it is lawful to lockout or strike to force proposal acceptance. These classifications of the bargaining subjects include mandatory, illegal and permissive subjects of bargaining. Mandatory bargaining subjects consist of any topic that is directly related to the hours, wages and other employment terms and conditions of the bargaining members (Riccucci, 2007).
Some of the topics essential for the determination of employee working conditions and wage levels are also part of the mandatory bargaining subjects (Riccucci, 2007). Examples of negotiated mandatory subjects of bargaining include wage negotiatins such as shift differentials, incentives pay plans, commissions, paid holidays, overtime premiums, stock purchase plans and profit sharing. Work rules, grievances and disciplinary procedures, fringe benefits and work schedules are also negotiated mandatory subjects of bargaining (Riccucci, 2007).
In mandatory subjects of bargaining, the two parties have to propose the same subject and it may be lawful to insist to a level of impasse that the mandatory subject of bargaining be part of the contract. It is also lawful to lockout or strike to obtain a mandatory bargaining subject. Illegal subjects of bargaining violate the specific Taft-Hartley provisions or other federal or state provisions (Riccucci, 2007).
Illegal bargaining subjects include the hot cargo clauses which violate some sections of the US Constitution, the clauses that illegally discriminate on the basis of sex, race or some other unenviable classifications, the improper union shops or closed shops and the agreements conditioning full union membership representation (Geel, & Imber, 2004). It is illegal to negotiate an illegal bargaining subjects and the consequent insisting on illegal subject negotiations. It is also considered illegal to have a lockout or strike to obtain illegal bargaining subject.
The last type of collective bargaining subjects is the permissive subjects of bargaining where the subjects are neither illegal nor mandatory (Riccucci, 2007). Although there is a long list of possible subjects of bargaining under permissive category, there are a number of different categories that are commonly proposed or negotiated as permissive subjects. It happens that some bargaining subjects are grouped in the category of permissive since the represent negotiating efforts on behalf of the people not part of the unit of bargaining (Geel, & Imber, 2004).
Permissive bargaining subjects include pension benefits for individuals who have retired, bargaining unit expansion and the drug testing prior to employment. The classification of a subject as permissive subject means that either party may propose over permissive bargaining subject or in case any of the parties choose to have negotiations, any of the agreement that is reached is always enforceable (Geel, & Imber, 2004).
In general, collective bargaining subjects are important processes which start from a mere beginning when workers of any organization raise a majority vote in order to be represented (Riccucci, 2007). Although collective bargaining is important in answering the grievances of workers, some of the bargaining subjects are unlawful. Workers should therefore adhere to the classification of bargaining subject which respects the rule of law.