These are difficult days for labor negotiations in the public sector. Governments have less resources than ever; employee associations are faced with the prospect of reductions in force. There is also increasing pressure to relinquish gains from earlier contracts. Given this circumstance, new methods must be considered for facilitating negotiation.
With reductions in force, there are greater pressures on the remaining unit members to maintain a rigorous posture vis-a-vis management. Facing the reality of offering modest salary gains, management must find more inventive approaches to redefining compensation and benefits within existing constraints. The demands for public agency responsiveness continue in the face of cutbacks in staff.
And yet, despite increased workloads and diminished staffs, protracted contract negotiations must still be conducted. Teleconferencing could help both public agencies and unions prepare for negotiations from dispersed locations without movement from the work site until the final stages of contract formulation. Individuals can meet with others on line for many purposes, including policy formulation, evaluation, information transmission, and the preparation of preliminary bargaining positions.