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Five things to do and five things you should never do



Five things to do and five things you should never do when negotiating a deal.

Bargaining for the next contract for MSEA-SEIU is here. The first team members have been elected. The first proposals are in. Many of the proposals stay the same year to year, pay, benefits, working conditions. We all want a fair contract, no one is out to steal money from the State. Your negotiators have several jobs. They must listen to you first, then their team members, and then the whole team. The most important tool you can give your team is support with phone calls and emails to your legislators when asked. Another piece is the information only the members working the job really know. How has the job changed? What new responsibilities have been added with more work, but no more pay?

Some times your teams can not come right out and tell you exactly what is going on because that is information the State will use to deny even the most justifiable request. We don’t tell them what our proposals are until we begin, we don’t tell them which ones we might be able to compromise on. We are there to do the best job we can for all of the members of all of the bargaining units and this is my take on how we go about it.

If you really want to make gains you need to know which types of information your side relies on you to provide. More isn’t necessarily better, however, and you also need to know the kinds of information you don’t want to give out.

Five things you should bring to the table

1 THE REAL STORY.

“Exaggerating problems, a lack of supportive information, demanding too much are all claims made by the State when we present our proposals. They do it so well, that we must make sure we are prepared and confident in our positions. To make effective changes we need the complete picture, as do the State negotiators.

When information is lacking, you help no one. We must present our proposals and our support information in a professional manner. The bargaining table is not an excuse to vent. Don’t confuse the truth with your opinion.

2 Your Ideas

Bring ideas to improve your unit’s functions even if they’re not directly tied to your proposals. Any savings you bring to the table can be used to achieve gains.

Sounds simple enough, but team members are often reluctant to bring their ideas forward, thinking they have no chance to be heard. In bargaining, that’s not the case. Bargaining assures that these ideas will go straight to the top and will show the State that we are interested in finding savings in order to fund our demands.

3. WHAT YOU WANT.

What would make a better work place?

Make suggestions that will help with employee retention, morale and productivity.

Savings, morale, retention, these are all issues that the State must be interested in to better serve the public. That’s why the State wants to hear what employees want from their jobs and for their futures.

4 NO.

It takes guts to “Just say NO” to the other side ideas, budgets or work rules that just aren’t acceptable.

But saying no to bad ideas up front is not the same as blocking a complete contract. After you say no, you must be ready to provide various alternatives and to discuss the pros and cons.

5 YOUR SUCCESSES.

No one wants to start each day hearing only demands, blame, and discontent. Good news is welcome, too. State employees work with labor management committees all year and we have many mutual success from both sides of the table. State employees seem reluctant to promote the positive.

Whatever the cause, modesty or oversight, employees should tell about accomplishments as a lead in to how so we can be recognized and show that we are willing to work to do even better next time.

Five things You Should Never Say

1. It’s ALL ABOUT THE MONEY AND NOT ABOUT SERVICES. Acting like the services can not be discussed is a negative. We never say that we know best what the State wants. , but we will only do it if we get our demands. We bring much more leverage to the table when we present our demands in the terms of how it will help government function better.

2. MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY.

People sometimes develop a connection to a certain proposal set of demands that almost become religion. It is never the case that one type of solution is the only one for a situation.

If you bargain with that type of attitude you’re viewed as a roadblock. The other side will assume you have only one idea and will be unwilling to offer counter proposals.

3. NEGATIVE OPINIONS ABOUT MANAGEMENT OR THE OTHER TEAM

It’s simple, but can get overlooked when your team is struggling with a tough decision or a failed proposal. Think before you blame because the other side can’t work with blame and generally don’t want to hear about it unless you can prove that you tried to work it out and it has not worked.

Don’t Say NO WAY.

4 Everything is possible. It may be impossible to give the other side exactly what they want, or it may be impossible in its original form, but before you say impossible, give them some of your reasons and offer to have a conversation about overcoming those objections. You may end up in exactly the same place but you will better understand their viewpoint and proven your willingness to listen.

5 A SURPRISE. When asked most negotiators say they don’t like surprises — especially unpleasant ones.

If the other side thinks there is an agreement don’t keep up the conversation about other issues and then spring the big NO. I know I would prefer to hear that news sooner rather than later.

Getting issues on the table early could help keep a small problem from turning into a roadblock.

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October 5th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

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