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Union Conflict ResolutionResearch Paper

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Union Conflict Resolution

The Process of Negotiation

Strategies to Bring the Union to the Negotiation Table

Mutual Trust Building to Not Anger Unions

The paper discusses the process of negotiations and the strategy of negotiations that the researcher, functioning as the human resource director of the city of Spanish Moss, Florida, takes in order to arrive at an agreement with the employee and workers' union of the city. The paper also identifies the strategies that can be used to bring the angered unions to the negotiation table. The researcher also needs to make sure that the unions agree to the demands of retrenchment and pay cuts of the employees in order to save the job of human resource director. The paper also identifies the strategies that need to be employed to prevent another breakdown of the negotiations and mitigate the anger among the union members.

Introduction

An inevitable part of everyday life is conflict-be it at the workplace or at the home or with the neighbor. Disagreements are the basic source of conflicts. At the workplace, conflicts can happen between co-workers and between workers and the management or between the management and the Union as is the situation in the case at hand.

As the Human Resources Director of the city of Spanish Moss in Florida, the director has a tough job hand of convincing the union to agree with the layoffs and cut in pay and other facilities given to the employees of the city administration (Kochan & Lipsky, 2003). While on one hand such cuts and retrenchment is inevitable in the view of the management, the unions feel they are being unfairly treated and refuse to accept the conditions. In such a situation the only way out is negotiation with the four labor unions to arrive at a consensus.

When two persons or two groups of persons disagree in interest, goals, values or beliefs, the process that such parties use to arrive at a possible agreement is termed as negotiation. The ultimate aim of a negotiator, in this case the Human Resources Director of the city of Spanish Moss, will have to reach an agreement with the 4 unions or at least a majority of the unions through the building of credibility with the unions, finding some shared interests, learning the position of the unions and sharing the management's information about the situation. However in this case the researcher has to first bring the four unions to the negotiation table after the break down of the initial negotiation attempt (Kritzer, 1991).

The primary requirement of the moment is constructive negotiations and trust building. The theories of negotiations stress that conflict necessarily does not have to lead to broken relationships. As the negotiator the researcher has to resolve arguments and disputes amicably.

The Process of Negotiation

As the Human Resource Director the negotiator needs to establish ground rules for the negotiations and that can be done by preliminary discussions with the unions. This is necessary for the negotiations to create some space for tolerating each other during the negotiation process and imbibe respect in about each other despite the differences.

The primary requirement for each of the parties is to concentrate on the interests and the desires and fears instead of the position that they have taken. The HR director, as the negotiator for the city authorities, needs to understand the fears, concerns and aspirations of the labor and employee unions regarding the loss of jobs and pay cuts and at the same time communicate to the unions about the authority's fears of bankruptcy of the administration (Kritzer, 1991). This would help start the negotiations on the right foot.

For the mutual communication of each other's fears, desires and aspirations and to get on the right foot for the beginning of the negotiations, it is important for the researcher to actively and intently listen to the grievances of the unions. For this the researcher, acting as the negotiator needs to develop the skill of listening to the employees. According to experts, it is more important to understand the stand and position as well as the reasons of disagreement of the opposing party in a negotiation before trying to make the opposing party understand one's position. This is an important part of the interpersonal relations necessary in a negotiation (Laubach, 2002).

A vital aspect of constructive negotiations is to create empathy for the unions and the employees by the city management. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, known for his negotiations with the British Colonial rulers in India, a thing that appears to be truth for one person could often appear to be untruth for another. Thus the negotiator needs to shun a position of rigidity and develop an empathetic approach for the employees and their fears of losing jobs and pay cuts. As a negotiator the researcher needs to put himself in the shoes of the employees and see the problem from the viewpoint of the unions.

During the preparatory period of the negotiations and during the actual negotiations, the negotiator needs to be express oneself clearly such that the unions and their representatives understand the statements and sentiments of the city authorities (Hopmann, 1996). This helps the unions to clearly understand the position and the statements and facts put forward by the negotiator, in this case the Human Resource Director of the city administration.

The HR director should look out for an amicable solution that would be acceptable and mutually favorable to both the sides. Despite being empathetic and considerate about the issues and fears of the employees the negotiator needs to create a win-win situation for the administration. However that could mean being conceding to some of the demands of the unions such that the impasse is resolved. This might require preparing more than one simple solution for the problem by creation of value from the results of the negotiation.

These are essentially the steps that the negotiator, functioning as the Human Resource Director of the city, needs to take before the negotiations and act according to the plan prepared during the negotiation. However the major problem for the researcher is the failed first round of negotiations with the 4 unions who have angrily walked out of the negotiating table. Therefore it is imperative that they be brought back to the negotiating table.

Strategies to Bring the Union to the Negotiation Table

Experts argue that to shun the chances of positional negotiation. The concept of positional negotiation is one that of adversary. In this position each of the parties get stuck to their stand and ultimately the negotiations breaks down (Shell, 1999). Hence to bring the 4 unions to the negotiation table, it is important that the negotiator approaches the problem from the principled negotiations concept.

This approach essentially comprises of building of a consensus through team discussion and decisions (Guasco & Robinson, 2007). This approach needs to be followed by the negotiator and gain the trust and build a relationship with the leaders of the employee and labor unions.

Building of mutual trust with the unions and their leaders is important a the first step to bring the unions at the negotiating table. This can be done by confidence building measures and constant interactions with between the parties. This also develops from the outlook of the negotiator being dependable and is predictable (Luecke, 2010). This assures the unions and employees that the negotiator would not bring out any surprises during the negotiations or have an unexpected shift in position. This is essentially the positive credibility of the negotiator and this is a primary requirement to drive the unions to the negotiating table.

Building of mutual trust and credibility also places the negotiator in a position form where a certain amount of influence can be exerted upon the unions. This influence tends to elevate the authority's goals and objectives while lowering the same for the unions. Another strategic ploy that can be used by the director, functioning as the negotiator, is to imbibe a sense of vulnerability among the unions about the validity of their position and demands. This would force them to come to the negotiating table. This would also influence the union's belief system about both the researcher's position and theirs. This requires the researcher to have a positive relationship with the unions to exert influence (Mediate.com, 2015). However this situation has the potential for conflict. But experts claim that proper planning can create such a situation where the opposing party in a negotiation can be weakened in this way and be brought to the negotiating table.

Another advantage of this approach is that it helps the creation of common ground for both the parties. As discussed in the previous section, creation of common goals and objectives is important to begin negotiations on the right foot. The researcher, functioning as the negotiators, needs to bring the unions at an understanding that if the cuts and layoffs are not made it would drive the city administration… [END OF PREVIEW]

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