The process of negotiations between city leaders and labor union representatives to forge agreements on terms of work and working conditions is known as collective bargaining. Only cities of the first class and urban county governments are required to collectively bargain with unions representing their public safety employees. Through their home rule powers, a handful of cities have voluntarily opted to negotiate with union leaders for various city employees – public safety or otherwise.
Proponents of public employee collective bargaining often contend that the process ensures communication between management and employees (through their union representatives), provides better working conditions and results in lower employee turnover. Opponents of public employee collective bargaining argue that it increases costs for taxpayers (in wages, benefits and compliance), requires a lot of time and is unnecessary for public sector employees due to a number of labor laws.
The most common labor unions in cities are the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP); International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF); and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).