Collective Bargaining

In UE, we go into bargaining ready to fight for the best contract we can get. We must rely on the unity and mobilization of our members. 

The slow-growth economic recovery has gone on for a decade, resulting in an official unemployment rate at the lowest level in almost 50 years. This has translated into more substantive real wage gains for American workers, with annualized pay increases finally over three percent. However, this in no way fully makes up for the losses that American workers suffered during the Great Recession and the years of stagnation which followed. American workers deserve much more than what bosses have yet to provide at the table. 

Over the past two years, UE members have won an average wage increase of about three percent, with slightly higher increases in the private sector. These increases significantly outpace the current low rate of inflation. A militant, engaged union can bring real wage growth to its members.

Bosses continue to shift healthcare costs to workers. In nearly every negotiation we see employers push for higher premium shares, higher deductibles, coinsurance, and copays, more restrictive provider networks and pharmaceutical formularies, or some combination of all of these. Although Congress has once again pushed back implementation of the Affordable Care Act excise tax on high-premium health plans, this time to 2022, employers continue to use the excise tax as a cudgel to reduce our benefit levels. 

The right to retire remains in crisis. Private and public employers continue to attack defined-benefit pension plans. All too many politicians support slashing Social Security benefits and raising the retirement age. UE continues to prioritize the protection of members’ retirement benefits.

Even in a tough bargaining climate, UE members have minimized losses and made gains. It’s a testament to what a rank-and-file union can accomplish.


  1. Calls for education and mobilization of members in preparation for the aggressive campaigns that are necessary for favorable contract settlements;
  2. Calls for broadening contract struggles beyond the bargaining table by including strategic campaigns, shareholder actions, and labor-community alliances;
  3. Calls for building solidarity with other unions, especially those of the same employer, engaged in contract fights;
  4. Calls on locals to keep members informed and mobilized at every stage of negotiations;
  5. Directs the national union to provide to locals a list of bargaining goals based on best practices of UE locals developed through years of struggle, along with the research information needed for negotiations.