Collective Bargaining 5: Bargaining Techniques

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No matter what procedures exist for maintaining an official record of the negotiations with the employer, the union must have its own mechanisms for the recording of all substantive discussions occurring in bargaining sessions. All committee members, with the possible exception of the chief spokesperson, should take notes during bargaining sessions. One member should be given the primary responsibility for maintaining the union record. One of the values of a caucus is to gain the benefit from multiple records. No matter how effective the official recorder is, there will be confusion in the process of negotiations. If other members have taken notes, those members will be in a position to help assure that the official record for the union is complete and accurate. The committee should periodically review the notes to assure that no significant errors or omissions have crept into the record.


Not everything that takes place in discussions with the employer's committee is necessarily rational, but the union should have solid arguments prepared to explain and justify its position on every issue introduced in negotiations. Techniques of argumentation and logic are useful in negotiations for three distinct purposes. One is the ability to explain the proposals to the management committee. The second is to justify the need for the proposed language. The third is to persuade the employer's representatives of the merits of the union's position.

Explanation, justification and persuasion are different concepts. The explanation of any proposal should be a rational and objective discussion of the problems giving rise to the union's proposals. Any proposal put on the table by the union was placed there for a reason. The union committee should be prepared to define the problem that gave rise to the proposal and the solution for that problem put forward by the union. The justification of that proposal goes one step further. Even if the company understands the issue and the solution addressed by the union's proposal, it is important for the union to justify the need for its proposed change in the status quo. Finally, the union must be prepared to persuade the company that the solution put forward by the union is a superior solution to the identified problem than any other proposed change put forward.


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