A Neutral Perspective on the Hostess Situation

There has been a lot in the news media about the labor dispute between Hostess and the unions that represent the employees.

It always amazes me how little is left out of the headlines or how little the news media relates to the working environment.  Collective bargaining situations may be a little different but what drives the issues in bargaining are the need to have a good working environment and to have a decent wage – nothing that is out of the ordinary of what everybody wants, including journalists.

The problem with leaving information out is it causes readers to take sides before knowing any other information.  Sometimes either or both sides try to negotiate through the media.  They deliberately leave out information or realize the media will not report everything so they will receive public sympathy.  This is part of traditional negotiations.

It’s tragic that strikes occur or companies close because one side or both has drawn a line in the sand and is not willing to budge.  I don’t know what happened with Hostess and its unions but what I do know a lot of traditional behaviors like strikes, lock-outs, threats, shutdowns etc.  are a lose-lose situation for everybody including those that think they are really going to get something out of those situations.  I also know, and we tell this to the groups we work with, if you come in to the room or a meeting with a single solution on how to solve a problem or take a position, you’re dead in the water.

There are very few situations where a single solution is justified, and if a single solution is needed it should be treated as a temporary solution until there is an opportunity to review it.

Some of the articles I have read reported there were warning signs for Hostess.  If that’s the case, then there was plenty of opportunity for both sides to look other options before it became a crisis such as this.  Maybe they did.  Maybe one side made overtures to the other or maybe they did sit down together to look other ways.  We don’t know because it hasn’t been reported.

All I know is the worst possible time to look at any options like this portrayed situation is at the last minute or at a bargaining situation.  Tension and emotions run high.  Panic sets in and before long, things go the wrong way.  Relationships should be developed before bargaining or critical situations.  That does not guarantee everything will turn out for the better but I do know if both sides don’t try it won’t happen.  Yes, situations change and leadership changes occur but the effort to make it better must happen early on.

If you think your situation could be better, think about building the relationship now before it’s too late.  It’s not easy.  It takes some help.  It takes a leap of faith and putting the baggage behind you but the outcome can be so much better.

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About CALMC Blog

Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to involving employers and employees to preserve jobs, resolve workplace issues, and promote labor-management cooperation. Visit our website at http://calmc.org
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