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Objectives of United States Labor Relations

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The case study question was: What are the basic premises of U.S. labor relations?

The textbook listed the premises as "The three objectives of efficiency, equity and voice provide the framework for labor relations" (Budd, Labor Relations, 3ed pg 12). This solution explains the dependency of each premise on the others, particularly when it comes to union negotiations. There is a "real world" example provided from a case involving Boeing.

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These three objectives are heavily intertwined; particularly within industries that are unionized. One of the most "newsworthy" employers impacted labor relations is Boeing. In 2011, after a politically charged and very public negotiation battle, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was able to help the two sides reach a four-year contract. Had the workers gone on ...

Solution Summary

There are three premises to labor negotiations: efficiency, equity and voice of the parties. Without all three, it can be difficult to arrive at a solution. This solution is over 200 words and includes a reference; utilizing union negotiations that occurred at the Boeing Company.

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Labor Relations


Busco Electric Utility

You are Anita Louise, the very first Vice President of Human Resources for Busco, an Electric Utility company with corporate headquarters in Denver, Colorado. None of Busco's employees are union in spite of the fact that the utility industry is heavily organized; to date Busco has no unions at any of its 8 plants across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. One of your objectives is to assure the company has appropriate programs and policies in place to continue to operate union-free. You immediately are assigned to deal with a potential disaster - Mildred Smit, the recently hired Plant Manager for the Busco-Chicago facility. She reports to Steve Zellner, the Vice President of Operations at the headquarters. The Chicago plant has 350 employees of which approximately 275 work in the plant as skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled laborers. The rest of the employees work in the office as managers, supervisors, and clerical workers.

Through interviews with Mildred and others, you learn the following. Buddy Montgomery is the first shift Operations Manager, who acts as the "team leader" for managers and supervisors on all three shifts in your plant. Buddy is experienced in hiring and safety and is a good leader, who Mildred feels can handle any personnel issues that arise in the Plant. Likewise, she has designated Plant Accountant, Joey Van Cleave, as the "team leader" for office operations to handle personnel issues as needed in the office.

Budgets for the new fiscal year had just been approved. The budget guidelines provided funds for the placement of a Personnel Supervisor at every Busco plant and for a 3.5% pay increase for all the laborers in the U.S. plants.

Mildred believed that a 2% pay increase in the plant will be sufficient. Unlike her counterparts, she planned to save money by not hiring a Personnel Supervisor since Buddy and Joey have handled the extra duties well. She also planned to eliminate the traditional annual plant picnic and only have it every other year. These budget adjustments would have her plant coming in under target for the year and will earn a big bonus pool for her and her plant's management staff. She said she wanted to demonstrate her ability to grow the business efficiently.

Buddy showed Mildred how hiring one skilled laborer on the third shift will save money by reducing overtime expense, so she allocated a position. Buddy extended an offer to Linda Porter, a skilled utility trades person from a unionized competitor across town. He was elated at having been able to hire her expertise for the Busco wage rate that is less than Linda made at her other job. She said she was willing to take less to work close to home. The day before Linda came on board, Mildred told Buddy he must retract the offer because she did not want "any union troublemakers". She explained to you that she was certain that the pay differential will be a problem. Linda did not take the news well since she already quit her former job. Buddy was very nervous, but explained to Linda that "Headquarters wouldn't authorize a budget for the position." The slot Mildred authorized went unfilled.

A week later Joey Van Cleave distributed the "What's Happening at Busco" employee newsletter with a small notice that the annual picnic will not be held this year to help manage the plant budget without wage freezes. There is not much feedback on this issue from employees. Three months pass and the Chicago plant's first quarter actual expenses were well under budget. As she predicted, Mildred's numbers were better than any of the other U.S. Busco plants. Employees seemed to have taken the 2% increase well understanding Mildred's position that everyone has to sacrifice for the sake of job security in these bad economic times.

A week after Mildred submitted her quarter end reports, Steve Zellner called her and you from Corporate Headquarters at the end of the day saying that they received a request for recognition from the Utilities Workers Union. Mildred was astonished, and you started working on this potential disaster. Mildred tells Steve she will talk to the employees about staying non-union and clear it up. You and Steve tell her not to do or say anything until Art King, the consulting labor attorney Busco has engaged, comes and speaks with her about the representation request and the unfair labor practice charge that the Utilities Workers Union alleges. You will assist Art in cleaning up this situation and trying to avert unionization. It seems that Linda Porter, the employee whose employment offer Busco retracted, lodged a complaint with the union. In the course of interviewing Joey and Buddy, they tell you Kendall Leander, a quiet long-term plant worker with a good record, is Linda's brother.

Attorney Art King is flying to Chicago tonight and will be in your office at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

Task Type: Discussion Board 2 Deliverable Length: 4-5 paragraphs
Points Possible: 100 Due Date: 11/7/2005

You turn your attention to the incident which started this all - the retraction of the job offer to Linda Porter. You fear that Busco will be dragged before the National Labor Relations Board shortly after unionization...and you want to be prepared.
Review the central issue and resolution in the Weingarten Case: NLRB vs. Weingarten, Inc. 420 U.S. 251, 88 LRRM 2689 (http://homepages.uhwo.hawaii.edu/~clear/weindecis.html)

After thoroughly studying this issue, consider these questions:

What is the position and motivation of each of the following?
the employer
the employee
the union
the NLRB
the courts
Summarize what you have learned from your research and from studying the motives, logic and facts behind the concerns of the 5 parties above in an objective narrative.
What are the decisions made and the arguments of the court?

I have a hard time with these questions as I do not have a lot of knowledge concerning Unions. I would appreciate any insight and information that would help me with this assignment. Please include references of information used from the Internet and Books. Thanks.

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