The Art of Negotiating for Labor & Management

The Labor Management Relationship is largely defined by negotiation; bargaining contracts, resolving grievances, handling gripes, and sometimes working together in consultative fashion on topics which the parties are not bound to tackle, yet choose to do so for the betterment of the operation (labor/management cooperation).

Think three-legged stool, one leg being contract bargaining, the second being contract administration, and the third being consultative negotiation.

The manner in which these various negotiations are conducted not only impacts the quality of the deals themselves, but also the quality of the parties’ consequent relationship.  That is to say, companies and their unions are either caught up in a vicious cycle (distrust leading to constrained communication resulting in sub-optimal solutions, further reducing trust, etc.) or are constructing a virtuous cycle (improved trust freeing up better communication resulting in higher quality deals further building trust, etc.).

Depending upon where you are in your particular relationship, this seminar can help you break the vicious cycle or accelerate the virtuous cycle.

The seminar is highly interactive, presenting the participants with a series of progressively more challenging simulated bargaining problems in which their experience is then subsequently mined to illustrate the pitfalls and advantages of specific behavioral choices. At every step, participants are presented with a range of bargaining principles, techniques, and structures that they might choose to employ in the future to improve their performance. The seminar concludes with a comprehensive “final exam” in which participants are asked to apply these various new tools on one or more simulated (yet
very realistic) contract, grievance, or labor/management cooperation issues. The objective is to provide in two days both a cognitive and visceral learning experience.

We can focus on any or all three of the labor/management negotiation venues (contract, grievance, labor/management cooperation), and that determination will inform who you should invite to the training. We can provide service to individuals, small groups (single bargaining committees), larger groups (committees from both sides), and very large groups (bargaining committees plus significant constituents, supervisors and stewards).

Joint training has the advantage of not only further expanding the knowledge and skill base within your organization but it also gives the participants an opportunity to get to know each other personally and to learn and work together on safe issues prior to wading in on the real stuff. The dynamics of joint training can be very powerful and often result in a qualitative improvement in your labor management relationship. Since collective bargaining entails a continuing (rather than one-time) negotiation relationship, it is in the interest of both sides to have a knowledgeable and skilled partner.

In the Art of Negotiating for Labor and Management seminar, participants will learn to:

  • Get more for your constituents without doing any unnecessary damage to the other side
  • Negotiate in an efficient and disciplined manner rather than engage in endless talk
  • Become more empowered agents themselves by negotiating better with own constituents
  • Avoid locking in on positions and instead focusing on interests
  • Focus on the problem rather than the personalities
  • Negotiate both work rule and monetary (economic) issues
  • Get creative without exceeding their authority
  • Forgive without forgetting
  • Employ external standards when appropriate
  • Know when to accept an offer and when to walk away
  • Construct contract language that will not be gamed by the bad actors in the field
  • Bargain constructively even when the other side won’t (One Hand Clapping)