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One of the central problems inherent in collective bargaining is defining the relative rights of the individual and the organizations in fixing and enforcing the terms and conditions of employment. Both Sweden and the United States have confronted this problem in its most insistent form, for in both countries government relies upon free collective bargaining as an instrument for regulating the labor market. Both countries by statute protect the right to organize and bargain collectively; both require recognition of unions and compel negotiations; and both make collective agreements legally enforceable. This public reliance on collective bargaining and legal protection of its processes imposes on the law a pressing obligation to define the status of the individual under the collective agreement.

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