First, Andy and I wish everyone a happy New (Fiscal) Year! We really didn’t know if there would be another Government shutdown, but Mother Nature had other plans that superseded! Also, since last we heard from our parties in the labor dispute, things have changed!
On September 21st, 2018, the headlines read: Medical Center and Nurse settle contract, includes 16 percent salary increase, needs approval from union members. On September 30th, 2018, the contract was ratified by members and the new agreement was signed, valid to July 09, 2021!
The above clearly illustrates, as Andy and I always say, we would rather be lucky than good! While Andy and I would always welcome, encourage and applaud ANY agreement mutually agreed upon as opposed to one imposed on the parties, this journey bears further examination!
Let’s take a look, if you will, with us, at what we like to call the metaphoric autopsy of this labor/management interaction. We want to see what maybe we can learn, going forward!
When we last left our parties, they were at impasse. There had been 10 months of non-productive negotiations. Hard and bitter, I can only presume! A two day strike had cost in excess of 3 million dollars and the parties were no closer to an agreement than when they started! They agreed to keep talking!
Suddenly, talks break off and the parties announce they cannot proceed any further and will seek help from FMCS!
Then, again, suddenly, the Chief Negotiator from the Union announces she is quitting leaving the entire process in disarray, as it is quite unclear in the media who will be speaking for labor! I can only imagine that talks continued without third party assistance and this only furthered frustration, ill will and harmed morale!
Then, there seemed to be media silence for quite some time! Occasionally, showing the nurses picketing, while continuing to talk and all of a sudden, September 21stheadlines appear! Unfortunately, issues remain for staffing and best possible patient care, will continue, the fight goes on! The press release reads!
So let us take a look, metaphorically, post mortem, at what was gained and lost. There was the strike, at least 3 million dollars, and that does not include all of the intangibles like, continued lost productivity, lack of respect, relationships harmed if not destroyed! And we contend to you that while the differences in pay may have been agreed upon, there is still a basic lack of understanding by all involved as to the real issues and interest of each party!
And on that pay issue. The Union wanted 21% and Management offered 14 %, I believe from the beginning. They settled on 16%. We are by no means mathematicians, but spending 3 million plus, to get where you probably would have got to for a whole lot less, and possibly avoided the strike, does not make sense to us!
We all think we are great listeners and negotiators but the fact of the matter is, we work better, more effectively when we work collaboratively, with the help of a trained, neutral third party! It produces better agreements, and the overall process is cleaner, less personal and NO ONE loses any rights or is forced into anything! We have seen it work and there are several business models that also echo proof of the success that we profess!
As always, we at I and I can NEVER guarantee results (an agreement). What we can and do and promise, is a process that will allow you to identify issues, interest and foster a professional, respectful negotiation/meeting environment! You may even find it leads to effective, more permanent solutions!
So we would rather be lucky than good! Mother Nature avoided a shut down and this labor dispute played out, gave us something of a teachable moment! By the by, I and I did offer our services to the parties, we have yet to hear back! We wish them all the best on their agreement and until next time!!
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