Table Dynamics - Section 15 - Collective Bargaining: How it Works and Why - 3rd Edition
Thomas R. Colosi is American Arbitration Association Vice President for National Affairs and a third-party neutral. He spends much of his time training advocates and neutrals about the workings of dispute resolution. He has taught as an adjunct professor for the University of Maryland Law School and at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
Arthur E. Berkeley is Associate Professor at the Memphis State University’s School of Business, where he teaches alternative dispute resolution. He is involved in training programs as well as serving as an arbitrator. He served as the founding president of the Maryland Chapter of Industrial Relations Research Association.
Originally from Collective Bargaining: How it Works and Why - 3rd Edition
IN THIS SECTION we examine the dynamics that affect the parties’ relationship. Collective bargaining is an interactive relationship with each party’s perceived actions having an effect on the other side, and simultaneously being affected by their perception and the other sides’ actions. In labor-management relations—as in much of life—perceptions are all important.
Uncertainty: Creating Doubts
There are two aspects to getting the other party to alter its position. The first is to create doubts about the wisdom of the other side’s position, and the second is to create uncertainties about your own future actions: what will you do next? The other side isn’t sure of what you’ll do or the impact your actions will have on the outcome of the dispute.
The other party, no matter how strongly and staunchly they reiterate their position and its attendant rationale, has some doubts about the wisdom of its posture. For example, the management of Bradley Products has repeatedly said that they must have a wage and benefits freeze to remain competitive in their very competitive industry. However, Helene Leonard, vice-president of Human Resources, seriously doubts if the union would ever accept a no-increase agreement. She knows how much the cost of living has increased over the past two years and foresees at least some inflation in the next two years. Perhaps, she wonders, the employees would accept just a cost of living increase to protect their purchasing power. A strike, even a brief one, would cost the company not only millions in lost sales but also valuable market share points, and, most importantly, create an aura of bad feelings all around.