An employers' organization, employers' association or employers' federation is an association of employers, often in one sector of economy. Emoloyers' organizations seek to support its member companies interests in negotiating with trade unions and other, often governmental bodies, etc.
The role and position of an employers' organization differs from country to country, dependent on the economic system of a country. Employers' organizations are often contrasted with labor unions, which organize workers.
In countries with a Anglo-Saxon economic system (such as the United Kingdom and the United States), where there is no institutionalized cooperation between employers' organizations, trade unions and government, an employers' organization is an interest group or advocacy group that through lobbying tries to influence government policy. In these countries, employers' organizations tend to be weak, with many of their functions taken over by industry trade groups, which are basically public relations organizations.
In countries with a social market economy, such as Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands, the employers' organizations are part of a system of institutionalized deliberation, together with government and the trade unions. In tri-partite bargaining the so-called social partners strike agreements on issues like price levels, wage increases, tax rates and pension entitlements. In these countries collective bargaining is often done on a national level not between one corporation and one union, but national employers' organizations and national trade unions.
In countries like Switzerland, the negotiations often take place at the cantonal level, branch by branch. The state is not involved in these negotiations, but can step in if the employers and the trade unions don't reach an agreement in a sector where salary dumping exists.
- employers' association, Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003