February 10, 2009
SENSITIVE MATERIAL DO NOT DISTRIBUTE.
SENSITIVE MATERIAL DO NOT DISTRIBUTE.
WE HAVE AN AGREEMENT WITH THE CORPORATION THAT WE WILL ONLY
PUBLISH JOINT COMMUNIQUE. THIS WILL HELP YOU TO ANSWER
QUESTIONS FROM YOUR MEMBERS.
Why don’t we get any information about negotiations?
What are our demands?
What is happening at the table?
The members of the executive and the members of the bargaining team are
often asked these questions, and it is not surprising. It is only natural for
us to want information, and to know what the effects will be on us
individually. We understand the frustration of not knowing.
The Interest Based Negotiation Process that we use does not lend itself to
providing answers to these questions. The process is based on frank and
open dialogue between the parties and calls for solutions to be suggested
by anyone in the room. It calls for the participants to throw in whatever
idea comes to mind regardless of what one supposes the ramifications
could be. Without confidentiality people would be reluctant to share some
of those innovative ideas.
At the start of the process, each side has issues that need to be resolved.
In the traditional type of bargaining each team would develop ‘DEMANDS’,
which would be a list of solutions to the problems/needs that they had
determined their issues to be. These lists were exchanged with very little
dialogue, and then the parties would break off to ponder their response to
the other side’s demands. When they met again, the two sides would
exchange new lists of demands based on their responses and the process
would commence again. Traditionally only the Chief Spokesman for each
team spoke during these sessions.
In the interest based model, the parties do not exchange pre determined
solutions (demands), but rather share their issues with the other party.
(What needs to be fixed and why, or what they need). At various stages in
the process, any and every one in the room suggests possible solutions,
and finally the group as a whole evaluates those solutions as to whether
or not they solve the problem and whether or not they can be
implemented. This last step would include each team assessing whether or
not they could get a buy on from their constituents.
The process is not followed in a linear fashion, for example all of the issues
are shared first. These are usually framed in a manner which tells
everyone the direction but lacks specifics. The next step is to categorize
these issues and determine the order in which to proceed. Usually a
generic grouping would be housekeeping – which would include minor
language corrections, revision of dates etc., the next group is often the
non-monetary items, a lot of these actually do have cost implications, and
finally the monetary issues which include compensation and benefits.
After the grouping and order is determined the participants begin to
discuss the interests under each issue which provides the road maps, and
then they generate the options (proposed solutions). The final step in the
process is to evaluate the options and attempt to come to agreements on
the solutions. The generating and evaluating of options is usually, but not
always done within the groupings, before moving to the next group.
Invariably at some point during the negotiations, the parties have to revert
to the traditional type global offer to resolve the outstanding issues.
Since the entire process needs everyone’s participation and the issues stay
open for some time without closure, confidentiality on the discussions is a
must. As I said earlier, without that assurance of confidentiality the
parties would be reluctant to share some of the ideas at all and wouldn’t
share others at an early enough stage in the discussions for both teams to
see/understand the whole picture.
Although the parties may agree in principal on some items as we move
through the process, nothing is officially agreed to until the end, and
therefore there can be no sharing of the specifics at the table until the end
of the process.
At the end of the process any issues that the parties can not agree on will
be taken to an Arbitrator for Final Offer Selection- Binding Arbitration. In
this type of arbitration, the arbitrator chooses either one side’s solutions or
the other’s. There is no jurisdiction to take pieces of each of the Final
Offer’s, only to take one in its entirety. This practice forces each side to be
very realistic in formulating their final offer, to ensure they can be