Some collective agreements deal with the general relationship between an employer or employers` organisation and trade unions. These agreements generally regulate issues such as participation, negotiated procedures and the definition of common objectives with regard to the future development of the labour market and employers. As a rule, agreements with the above-mentioned topics are concluded between the federal employers` organizations and their national central counterparts. The Swedish Confederation of Industrial Employers is bound by thirteen collective agreements. Seven of them are workers` contracts. The workers` union Industrifacket Metall is a counterpart in five agreements, Pappers (the Swedish union of paper workers), GS (the Swedish Union of Forestry, Wood and Graphics Workers) in one and SEKO (The Union of Service and Communication Employees) in two. The Swedish Confederation of Industrial Employers is also bound by four collective agreements for employees. The counterparts to this agreement are the employee unions Ledarna (the Swedish Management Organisation), Unionen and Sveriges Ingenjörer (Swedish Federation of Graduate Engineers). In addition, the Swedish Industrial Employers` Association is bound by a collective agreement which includes both counterparties and employees in the same agreement with Pappers (the Swedish Paper Workers` Union) as a fellow worker. 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 contractual, which is prohibited by law. For example, a union and an employer cannot use collective bargaining to deprive workers of rights they would otherwise enjoy under laws such as the Civil Rights Articles (Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., 415 U.P. 36, 94, p. Ct. 1011, 39 L. Ed. 2d 147 ). Nor can collective bargaining be used to waive the rights or obligations that the law imposes on both parties.
For example, an employer cannot use collective bargaining to lower the level of safety standards it must meet under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (29 U.S.C.A. §651 et seq.). In addition, the collective agreement is not purely voluntary. The inability of one party to reach an agreement allows the other to use certain legal tactics, such as strikes and lockouts, to exert economic pressure and force a deal. In addition, unlike trade agreements governed by national law, collective agreements are governed almost exclusively by federal labour law, which defines the issues, collective bargaining, date and method of bargaining, as well as the consequences of failure to negotiate or comply with a collective agreement. The Office of Labor-Management Standards, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, is required to collect all collective agreements for 1,000 or more workers, except those for railroads and airlines.  They offer public access to these collections via their website. .