The United States recognizes collective agreements   Collective bargaining allows workers and employers to voluntarily agree on a wide range of issues. Nevertheless, it is limited to some extent by federal and regional laws. A collective agreement cannot be entered into by contract, which is prohibited by law. For example, a union and an employer may use unconventional negotiations to deprive workers of the rights they would otherwise enjoy under laws such as civil rights laws (Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., 415 U.S. 36, 94 P. Ct. 1011, 39 L Ed. 2d 147 ). Nor can collective bargaining be used to waive the rights or obligations that the laws impose on each party. For example, an employer cannot negotiate with collective agreements to lower safety standards that it must meet under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (29 U.S.C.A.
Moreover, the collective agreement is not purely voluntary. The inability of one party to reach an agreement allows the other party to resort to certain legal tactics, such as strikes and lockouts, to exert economic pressure and to reach an agreement. Moreover, unlike trade agreements governed by national law, the collective agreement is almost exclusively governed by federal labour law, which determines issues that require collective bargaining, the date and nature of negotiations, and the consequences of non-negotiation or compliance with a collective agreement. The term “collective bargaining” was first used in 1891 by Beatrice Webb, founder of the INDUSTRIAL relations sector in the United Kingdom.  It refers to the type of collective bargaining and agreements that have existed since the rise of trade unions in the 18th century. In Sweden, the scope of collective agreements is very high, although there are no legal mechanisms to extend agreements to entire industrial sectors. In 2018, 83% of all private sector employees were subject to collective agreements, 100% of public sector employees and 90% in total (compared to the overall labour market).  This reflects the predominance of self-regulation (regulation by the labour market parties themselves) over state regulation in Swedish industrial relations.  The union may negotiate with a single employer (who usually represents the shareholder of a company) or with a group of companies, depending on the country, to reach an industry-wide agreement.
A collective agreement functions as an employment contract between an employer and one or more unions. Collective bargaining is conducted in negotiations between union representatives and employers (usually represented by management or, in some countries such as Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands, by an employers` organisation) on the conditions of employment of workers, such as wages, working time, working conditions, redress procedures and trade union rights and obligations. The parties often refer to the outcome of the collective agreement or collective agreement (AEC) negotiation. Collective bargaining has been the subject of controversy in the 21st century, particularly in the case of public servants. Since tax revenues fund the salaries of public service employees, opponents of collective agreements argue that this practice leads to excessive wages that weigh too heavily on taxpayers. Proponents of collective bargaining in the public sector are concerned about the flight of wages and the fact that public sector employees who are covered by collective agreements earn no more than 5% more than their non-union colleagues. Under common law, Ford v. A.U.E.F. , , the courts found once that collective agreements were not binding. Second, the Industrial Relations Act, introduced by Robert Carr (Minister of Labour in Edward Heath`s office), provided in 1971 that collective agreements were binding, unless a written contractual clause indicated otherwise.