Labor Negotiations in the Nineties: Five Steps toward Total Preparation

By Thomas, Steven L.; Wisdom, Barry L. | SAM Advanced Management Journal, Autumn 1993 | Go to article overview

Labor Negotiations in the Nineties: Five Steps toward Total Preparation


Thomas, Steven L., Wisdom, Barry L., SAM Advanced Management Journal


Introduction

Negotiating a collective bargaining agreement can be trying under the best of circumstances. Events of late have conspired to make the process more complicated and physically and mentally exhausting. For example, Supreme Court and National Labor Relations Board decisions in recent years have increased the number and complexity of issues over which parties are forced to negotiate. These issues have evolved simultaneously with dramatic changes in the character of competition in many industries due to deregulation, changing global markets, and other factors. Competitive pressures have permanently altered the nature of bargaining outcomes by heightening the potential importance of contract settlements to a company's survival. In such an environment, the need for total preparation for negotiating has never been more important. This article offers a series of steps a company can follow to insure total preparation for contract negotiations. We argue that negotiation preparation is the province not only of the human resource function and labor negotiators but also the entire management team. Total preparation involves a concerted effort beginning with the first-line supervisor. It also implies a strategic industrial relations perspective where negotiating objectives are shaped not by union demands but by organizational goals.

The five steps to total preparation provide guidance for the novice and reminders and suggestions for the experienced negotiator. The underlying theme is that total preparation is vital to insure the survival of the firm in a dynamic global marketplace and also as a tool of communication--a device that promotes understanding of the needs and goals of all parties and more effective bargaining outcomes.

Step One: Regard Preparation As An Investment

One of the authors once asked a labor relations staff member at a DuPont manufacturing facility when his company began preparing for the negotiation of the next labor contract. He replied that preparations began the day after the current contract was signed. This statement, though perhaps exaggerated for effect, was an implicit recognition of two important principles: (1) preparation for bargaining is important, and (2) preparation is continuous.

The ongoing preparation process is a function of the unique status of bargaining relationships. Although we commonly associate negotiations with conflict, mature labor/management relationships frequently resemble a marriage more than a pugilistic endeavor. Management and labor co-exist and interact on a day-to-day basis. Just as marriages are for better or worse, the parties to the contract have to live with the errors made both at the bargaining table and on the shop floor. The alternative, a messy "divorce," is an admission of failure that may harm both parties. When a labor agreement is poorly drafted, mid-course corrections are difficult to implement. Both parties suffer through an excessive number of grievances. The union may face internal political problems as various political coalitions try to assume control of the bargaining agenda. On the shop floor, supervisors may encounter a variety of motivational or behavioral problems.

Table 1

Five Steps to Total Preparation in Negotiations

           ACTION                                    OUTCOME

1. View preparation as an investment      While preparation takes time and
   not just a cost.                       energy, the outcome will be a better
                                          agreement.

2. Use the entire management team to      Avoids a reactive approach to
   development goals and clearly          bargaining, creates a focus on
   identify the organization's            important issues that need to be
   bargaining objectives.                 resolved, and is a vehicle for
                                          employee involvement.

3. Anticipate the union's bargaining      Knowing the union's likely
bargaining    objectives and the members' needs. … 

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Labor Negotiations in the Nineties: Five Steps toward Total Preparation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.