The news this week is the surprising result of the U. S. election. How will a Trump administration address worker issues especially when he was primarily elected by a working middle class and are there areas unions and the new administration can work together?
UAW President Dennis Williams acknowledged the new president and said they are willing to work with him on common issues such as trade. The UAW President also agrees with Trump about adding tariffs to imported cars and on infrastructure issues. There are areas, though, the union may not agree with him and will maintain their stance on them, particularly on social values but the trade and infrastructure issues may be a good starting point.
But will those common areas help with more difficult issues like Right-To-Work? Some Republicans are in favor of it and, apparently, so is Donald Trump. He says workers should not have to “pay big fees” to unions especially because, he says, unions get plenty of funds from elsewhere which is a tall tale. These “huge” fees from workers Mr. Trump complains about help to pay for the contract negotiations that increase wages, benefits and improvements to work rules that impact ALL workers, not just unionized workers. Will he be willing to meet on common ground especially when it can influence the livelihood of those he appealed to vote for him? We will have to wait and see.
It does sound like issues on wages, benefits and improvements to work rules are important to working class Americans. On Election Day, Americans didn’t just vote for President of the United States. In some states, they voted for themselves. The working class won some big gains in the states of Arizona, Maine, Washington and Colorado. In these states the minimum wage was raised. One of the states went so far as to raise wages for those who make tips. Two states voted for workers to receive paid sick leave.
Since the election, many other people have talked about working on issues with common ground. We too have discussed in these blogs how labor and management work through problems based on their common interests – the very same thing as what’s being conveyed by those seeking common ground. Working together based on common concerns and interests can solve a lot more problems than working against each other but there must be a willingness from all the parties involved.
When finding common ground, it’s important to watch that traditional behaviors don’t get in the way. These behaviors include such things like power and rights. They do nothing to solve problems and they do nothing to establish cooperative atmospheres or build partnerships. As we tell our groups, the minute you draw a line in the sand, you’re done. It makes it much more difficult to work together the next time.
The other important quality that helps when finding common ground is listening to one another. It’s about listening to concerns and desires. It’s about listening to concerns and desires based on some of our very basic needs such as security and economic well being. When people listen and understand the concerns and desires of others it helps them to truly solve problems.
We know of leaders that have listened to others. Some have apologized because they hadn’t taken the time before to understand what others were needing. More than one leader has said they prefer to listen and learn from those who do the job because they know it best and it helps them to be more successful. These are the type of behaviors that help people work together to solve problems.
Labor and management have proven they can do it. Most of us have a common interest for change but some of the nation’s leaders have have fallen on deaf ears. We now have a new administration coming in January. We hope this will awaken the listening skills of all leaders and find common ground to work together!