Contract negotiations

24 Jan

Today I was driving around town and while listening to the radio I heard in the news segment that we would likely be facing a strike action by the bus drivers union, since they have been working since August (over 6 months) without any contract. This got me thinking as to why is it, that more often than not large unions and management never seem to be organized, and always end up working for long periods with a defunct contract.  My wife who works for a local hospital just recently underwent the same thing and ironically enough no sooner had they signed the first contract (which was for previous years) that the newly signed 2 year contract was near its own expiration date.(within 4 months). Ironic when you think that they could not resolve the first within a year and a half. What could they possibly hammer out or agree with to reach any settlement for the next contract. What is new that they did not already discussed last week?

Every management book or article I read postulates getting organized and manage your time to avoid stressful crunch periods.  Certainly, the management on both sides of the fence, company and union has the same criteria of proper efficiency.

This leads me to wonder, is there a financial benefit to delaying for the company’s side and one of strong-arm pressure by the unions. I wish someone out there could explain that, without the typical rhetoric or negative vitriol against one side or the other.  I am sure we have all heard that by delaying the contracts signing, companies get more return on their investment, due perhaps to wages not paid. I think this is just urban legend and surely, whatever gains they get, they lose when they must pay retroactive back pay. Maybe it is, I am not an accountant.

For some who usually cannot strike like essential services such as nurses and firefighters, wages continue to be paid. Even if those wages paid are at the old rate.  The whole process just does not make sense to me.  Certainly, for essential services that get their right to strike removed by legislation, what leverage could they get to negotiate with management.  Certainly, with ALL unions the threat to strike and stop all work is their biggest weapon.  In that instance, I can see loss of revenue by management from the sale of their product quite detrimental, and a big incentive to reach an agreement.

I am sure that the process is not an easy one and certainly cannot be properly addressed or resolved with a few lines of blog but there has got to be more to this dance than meets the eye.

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