Last week I heard a speaker discussing how the labor-management environment has changed over the last few years, and would like to share a couple of his points with you.
Mike Duco, Labor Relations Manager for the City of Columbus (and a member of the Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee Board of Trustees) was the speaker. His combination of insight and experience resulted in an excellent presentation. He cited a number of examples of recent and coming changes, and I would like to focus on two of them.
He believes the win-lose mentality is back. This change is reflected in the attitudes present in our society. People view victory over the other side as the only acceptable goal. Whether we are talking about politics, workplaces, or our personal lives, winning is what we think is important.
Remember the concept of the “loyal opposition”, the minority party in politics which had an agenda, but placed the good of the country ahead of political gain? One look around shows the concept no longer exists.
Mike compared those attitudes with the current labor relations picture. He noted that for many years an attitude of cooperation, data-based decision making, and joint problem solving became the norm. Concepts like win-win bargaining grew as both sides realized the benefit of working together.
Today, that cooperation is suffering. It has been replaced with a return to traditional adversarial bargaining, position taking, and intransigence. Anti-union movements, mostly thinly veiled political pressures to “restore power” to management. The outcome has been weakened opportunities and protections for employees as top management rakes in profits.
Mike discussed several of these, including “Right-to-Work”. One of his points about it is a new take I had not heard before. He noted an argument made by those in favor of this legislation, who claim unions will have to become more responsive to their members under right-to-work. While I believe this argument is spurious at best, he looked at it from another perspective.
He contends unions will become less responsive to mainstream members as they are forced to respond to the demands of employees on the “fringe”. More time will be given to these employees and their demands and less to the employees who are the true heart of the union.
I think Mike was absolutely correct in his views on these and the other points he discussed. Think about your organizations and how attitudes have changed over recent years. One positive we have seen beginning to emerge is the sentiment of both labor and management of “enough is enough”. They are tired of the fighting on both sides and want to rebuild a cooperative labor-management atmosphere.
If the latter sentiment is present in your workplace, CALMC can help you build on it to create a cooperative workplace. Contact us if we can help you.