Thursday, November 24, 2005

Bargaining Yesterday

It was largely a success. We presented our offer, which was not surprisingly dismissed out of hand. We had discussions about the employer's willingness to expend what amounts of money on salary, etc. I didn't get talked in circles about school finance (there, I work for one of the two major teacher's unions, I admit it). Their business manager pretty much kept mum, and we kept it to a discussion about relationships, values, the politics of the bargaining unit, and other union settlements in the district.

There is much discussion among people who do what I do about the value of 'traditional' bargaining versus 'win-win' bargaining or 'interest based bargaining'.

I know the basic precepts behind win-win and interest based bargaining, but they seem more like cults, complete with devotees who Wouldn't Do It Any Other Way (TM).

This is my first time at the table. I'm proud to say that over the course of the negotiations, we've been able to build a scene, where we are bargaining traditionally, but the conversation is professional, concerned for the well-being of the whole district, even warm at times. This has allowed us to be very frank about pressing issues on our side, and I believe that the district has been honest about their pressing issues as well. Most importantly, it has built up the leadership of this particular union to a level that has never been accomplished. The district finally, really, believes they want the best for the whole of the district, and it makes all the difference in the world.

It's something I never thought I'd be doing, but here I am, two sessions away from closing my first union contract. When I was an organizer in another office in the state, I used to watch my colleagues do the same job I'm doing now, and I used to tell myself, 'I could never, never do what they do for a living. No way.'

Now I'm doing it, and at least in these circumstances, I'm doing it well.

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