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    Negotiations, Safety, Expatriation and Repatriation Plan

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    For this project you and your group are to draft answers or solutions for each of the following three scenarios.

    Scenario One: You are a supervisor in a small manufacturing plant. The union contract covering most of your employees is about to expire. How do you prepare for union contract negotiations?

    Scenario Two: As the supervisor of a small manufacturing firm, you need to construct a plan for reducing both accidents and stress on the plant floor. How would you proceed and why?

    Scenario Three: One of your plant managers will be sent to your sister company in Bulgaria for a period of three years. Write an expatriation and repatriation plan for this employee.

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    Interesting application scenarios! One approach to help you with this type of assignment is to provide illustrative examples, which you can draw on to write up your final copy. This is the approach this response takes. I provided a lot of information to draw on for your final 8-page project, as well as links and two articles as other sources to draw on if necessary.

    Let's take a closer look.

    I. Scenario One: You are a supervisor in a small manufacturing plant. The union contract covering most of your employees is about to expire. How do you prepare for union contract negotiations?

    Negotiating with unions at the table creates an environment where management is required to understand both the individual union issues and those issues that transcend the entire table, such as jurisdiction issues. The pre-negotiation process generates information and reports from field operations that help in the negotiation process. This was critical in developing negotiating scenarios and costing out their outcomes. It is also important to understand the culture, environment, and the history of the labor contract. While there is a place for consultants and labor attorneys at the table, it is actually working with management after undertaking a pre-negotiation process that creates a clear vision of potential outcomes based on the organization's experience with the contract. As important as this preparation work, Lynn (2002) points out that in his experience, however, many organizations do not do the preparation work that will allow them to be successful in negotiating subsequent contracts. (1) Indeed, preparation for any negotiation, including a union contract negotiation, should start with a number of steps designed to develop your negotiating strategy.

    Lynn (2002) suggested the following steps in the development of the union contract negotiations:

    (a) review of previous negotiations,
    (b) review of operating experience during the life of the last contract,
    (c) consideration of the unit for bargaining,
    (d) generating data,
    (e) looking at the industry, and
    (f) development of the employers strategies

    1. Review of Previous Negotiations

    Start the process by reviewing union agendas from previous negotiations. The process of reviewing the notes or minutes of previous negotiations will allow the HR Professional to study the arguments made by both sides and review the answers given in respect to the arguments. This is especially useful if the HR Professional was not present at the last contract negotiation. It is very helpful at this point to begin developing an indexed contract review and negotiating strategy book.
    Reviewing the plusses and minuses of past negotiations, including the tactics, timing, concessions and gains often provides the best learning experience and predictor of future behavior on the part of the union. Any settlement agreements or any "side agreements" should also be reviewed along with any oral or written commitments made during the prior negotiations and since the last contract. One of the priorities for the HR Professional should be to follow up on all of the agreements and commitments to determine whether or not they were carried out by management and what operational impact they had on the organization. Often times side agreements or settlements can be included into the next base agreement rather than becoming negotiating issues. A review of the key issues in the last negotiation is critical. Included in the strategy development should be an assessment of those issues and whether or not they will surface again. It is far easier to develop strategies to deal with each of these issues prior to the negotiations than it is to deal with them at the table. A review of the personalities that were involved in the last negotiations is important. Who were the dominant personalities and will they be involved in the next negotiations? A review of those personalities with the negotiating team and the development of strategies to deal with their absence or presence can make a big difference in dealing with their influence at the table. It can often times lead to a strategy that opens doors that were once closed.

    2. Review of Operating Experience During the Life of the Last Contract

    The manner in which the contract impacted the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization is a measurement that is critical to the negotiating team. This is the place where the HR Professional's relationship with operations management and line supervision can really pay off. Asking the right questions that drive to the contracts impact on operations, quality and productivity provides data critical to the creation of scenarios and outcomes that will enhance the value of the contract to management. A mistake often made by labor relations specialists is asking general input from operating management and accepting lack of input as evidence that the contract may not need modification. A solid approach to generating useful data is a section-by-section discussion facilitated by the HR Professional and attended by the operating management staff. A good cross check for the HR department and a next step is an analysis of the grievance and arbitration experience during the life of the contract for each article or section in the contract. This data compared to supervisory input will create a profile of the operational problems in the contract.

    3. Consideration of the Unit for Bargaining

    A key consideration for management is the construction of the bargaining unit. This is often a choice that management can make in respect to the benefits they may derive from joining other employer groups for bargaining purposes. This is a unique consideration for each employer and should be based on the negotiating track record, composition of the union, cohesiveness of the employer bargaining unit, and the potential leverage of any employer group being considered. If the employer has more than one contract with the same union, another consideration is an evaluation of the pros and cons of a single employer and multi-facility bargaining group. This often takes an assessment of the union's interest in bargaining this contract within a multi-employer or multi-facility framework.

    4. Generating Data

    Anyone who has negotiated contracts knows that accurate data in respect to wages and benefits is critical in developing successful outcomes. At a minimum, generation of the following analyses will provide the negotiating team with key baseline comparisons necessary during the economic discussions:
    · A wage chronology showing base, average, and key wage rates over the last 10-15 years.
    · A benefit chronology of the most significant benefit changes in the last 10-15 years.
    · Historical summary of key economic factors of the employer's company such as productivity rates, prices, production levels, sales or revenue volumes, and profits.
    · Chronology of key labor costs such as health insurance, pensions, and vacation pay costs.
    · Summary of labor unit costs including labor cost per hour for the last 10 to 15 years.
    · Recap of labor costs on a gross and hourly basis under the current labor contract. Show the cost of each element of labor.
    · Recap of the hours of work for each facility/operation:
    · Average weekly hours
    · Entire bargaining unit
    · Each work unit
    · Each department
    · Each job classification
    · Unworked paid hours on the job
    · Paid lunch periods
    · Paid break periods
    · Paid wash-up time
    · Paid time off for union business
    · Overtime hours worked for the same units
    · Premium hours worked for the same units

    The comparison of this data with the estimates made during the negotiation of the last contract will provide the negotiating team with a test of its costing techniques. Techniques should be modified if large differences are generated. The generation and analysis of this data should result in a summary of the economic provisions of the present contract for quick reference during negotiations. It should also provide the negotiating team with:

    · A wage bracket reference chart with numbers of employees at each wage increment.
    · A matrix showing the number of employees in the bargaining unit according to age and service.
    · A detailed cost breakdown of key labor cost items.
    · A baseline to estimate the cost of new economic considerations at the next negotiation.
    · A baseline to generate employer ...

    Solution Summary

    By research and examples, this solution responds to the three scenarios related to union contract negotiations, safety construction plans, and expatriation and repatriation plan for this employee.