Sixty days prior to the contract expiration, the union must notify the company in writing of its intention to renegotiate the labor contract. The union then begins preparing for negotiations by selecting a bargaining committee, formulating proposals that will be given to management's negotiating team, doing research necessary to support the union's proposals, developing a communications strategy for the members during the negotiations as well as with the public, if difficult negotiations are expected.
If the union and management are still in negotiations when the contract expires, the union has three choices:
- To accept management's proposals;
- To extend the contract expiration date with the joint agreement of both the union and management (a common choice); or
- To agree with the employer that, they cannot reach settlement and declare an impasse in which the employer is free to implement its final offer and the union is free to strike if the members vote in favor of that option. More than 95 percent of contracts are settled without workers having to strike.