Collective Bargaining 2: Behavioral Factors Influencing Union Bargaining Power

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Behavioral Factors Influencing Union Bargaining Power

In preparation for negotiations, it is important for union leaders to think in terms of "solidarity" and the "interests of the membership," but it is also important to remember that unions are complex and dynamic organizations for which defining the interests of the membership may be a perplexing task. Solidarity is based not on the definition of a single set of issues in which all are in agreement. Solidarity is built on the basis of an organizations internal capacity to recognize and accommodate many diverse interests. Union bargaining power is based not on the lowest common denominator of membership concerns but on the ability of many diverse groups to recognize and support the goals of others in the organization.

To move toward this level of solidarity, it is important to understand some basic elements of organizational dynamics and group behavior. Bargaining power is a reflection of the internal dynamics of the union as much as it is a function of relationships with the relevant employers. The power of a bargaining committee relative to the employer is directly affected by the capacity of the committee to operate on a solid base of membership support.

This paper is not intended to be a comprehensive analysis of the principles of organizational behavior and the bargaining process. However, it is designed to provide information on issues that can have a significant effect on a local union's preparation for collective bargaining. Each section will raise questions concerning that preparation and suggest areas that many local unions may wish to pursue in greater detail in their unique setting.

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