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Apr 26, 2023
This exercise simulates the collective bargaining process, with particular emphasis on the most important elements of the negotiation: planning and preparing for the bargaining table. Your group will take on the same work and responsibilities of an actual bargaining committee in preparing and generating an actual bargaining strategy as well as a bargaining proposal. Teams will then share their proposal with a group representing the “other side” and each side will then re-evaluate their positions. This exercise will also ask groups to objectively debrief the simulation. For this proposal – you will be the EMPLOYER’S side. IMPORTANT NOTE: Your work should reflect the role you have been assigned (i.e. Union or Employer). The background information will help you focus on key priorities in representing either the union membership or the employer. Keep in mind that your work should always reflect the priorities, interests, expectations and of your stakeholders, just as you would in a real negotiation. This means if you are representing the Union then you are primarily accountable to your membership’s long-term best interest. For the Employer, you are primarily accountable to your Board of Directors and your company ownership. Having said that both sides need to keep in mind that a healthy relationship between union and employer is critical. A Union that pushes for excessive cost increases can jeopardize the business while an Employer that pushes back against reasonable increases can be subject to costly work stoppages, inefficiencies and conflict. Under Background Information, you will learn about the Employer, Lenny’s Fine Furniture Ltd. and the Union, the United Furniture Workers whom represent the unionized workforce at Lenny’s. In addition to Employer and Union profiles, the background information also includes a summary of the current economic conditions that you should consider as part of your simulation as well as the status of the current collective bargaining negotiations. IMPORTANT NOTE: Your simulation takes place in the middle of a current round of collective bargaining. The parties have therefore already traded some initial proposals and your task will be to carry on with the next stage of the negotiations. The Background Information outlines the current bargaining situation as well as the party’s current positions on the outstanding items to be resolved. These items outstanding items are categorized as follows: i) Term ii) Wages iii) Wage differential iv) Benefits Premiums v) Union Security vi) Seniority Rules vii) Contracting Out viii) Holidays ix) Grievance Procedure Bargaining is limited to these nine issues ONLY. Your first deliverable is to research, develop and submit a BARGAINING STRATEGY DOCUMENT. This document must contain the following information for each unresolved item listed above: i. Your TARGET point on each item. ii. Your RESISTANCE point on each item. iii. A brief description of the RATIONALE behind your Target/Resistance points for each item For i. – TARGET; identify the outcome(s) that your team would consider a potentially achievable complete “win” in the negotiations (i.e., the desired contract language, the % wage increase, or the specific “theme” of the outcome that you are after). • For ii. – RESISTANCE; identify your minimally acceptable position (i.e., generally, you must be willing to strike/lockout before you will breach this resistance point). • For iii. – RATIONALE; provide a brief statement that summarizes your bargaining strategy and the reasons/rationale behind your targets and resistance points. This is where you explain your group’s strategy to: (a) attempt to convince the other side to accept your position; and/or (b) your approach to how you believe you may be able to achieve a settlement that is at or between the target and the resistance point. Your Bargaining Proposal (To Be Given To the Other Side) You are also asked to prepare a simple document that outlines your bargaining proposals which will be shared with the Opposing Team. These bargaining proposals must provide proposals for the outstanding items (only) as follows: i) Term ii) Wages iii) Wage differential iv) Benefits Premiums v) Union Security vi) Seniority Rules vii) Contracting Out viii) Holidays ix) Grievance Procedure Your proposal document should contain the actual language you propose to have in the collective agreement for each of the outstanding items. Remember that your proposals should be consistent with the role that you play (i.e. union or employer) as well as the facts that you have been provided in the background information. IMPORTANT NOTE: It is important to write your proposed language in a way that is clear, concise and unambiguous. Regardless of whether you are representing the union or the employer, it is important to avoid disputes over the interpretation of collective agreement language. HELPFUL TIP: Collective agreement language is rarely completely original. Most current collective agreements are available online. It is quite alright to copy language that exists in a current collective agreement, BUT be sure that the language makes sense in the context of Lenny’s Fine Furniture. ALSO, beware that just because you find something to copy does not mean that language is devoid of ambiguities. You will still want to review it to ensure it meets your standards. Where to Find Collective Agreements? • BC Labour Relations Board Website • Metro Vancouver Labour Relations Department (Some Municipal and Public Sector collective agreements only) • Union Websites (Most Unions publish their current collective agreements) • Employer Websites (SOME employers publish their current collective agreements)
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