Seniority is basically a worker-to-worker relationship. It is, however, a relationship that is not easy to define, for it is dynamic in nature with the conditions and people giving rise to this relationship continually changing. As a result any cursory examination of collective bargaining agreements will find an enormously wide variety of seniority provisions, which are directed at two conflicting objectives. On the one hand these provisions appear to stress the importance of seniority's role in the rationing of limited job opportunities, while at the same time they present a wide variety of methods directed at limiting its application.
Straight Seniority Provisions
In collective bargaining agreements there are four basic types of seniority clauses directed at rationing limited job opportunities. Three associate seniority with ability for job opportunities. Only one is a straight seniority provision. This latter type is found occasionally in contract provisions relating to lay-off, but is quite rare for promotion situations. This type of clause is the easiest to administer for the determination of eligibility is simply a matter of determining who has the most seniority. It will generally be found only in those areas where all employees have the same basic skills, e.g. Teamster contracts.