Contract Negotiations 2016: Session #2


SHARE and UMass Memorial had our second contract negotiations session on Wednesday, August 10. As we reported last week, these negotiations continue to feel different from past negotiations. One key difference is the use of “co-facilitation,” a new process involving one union and one management leader to steer each discussion. This week we continued our focus on issues from the previous session:

  • Interactions between SHARE members and supervisors and managers, which SHARE brought to the table. This week, Tod Wiesman (AVP, Performance, Learning, and Education) addressed the negotiators; he described the ideas that the hospital’s executive leadership is developing to train and cultivate hospital leaders.

  • Increasing flexibility for cross-campus floating, which management brought to the table. This week, five front-line managers were brought in to describe their interests in floating SHARE employees. We also established an additional side table to drill down further on the issue of floating.

We started with 2 difficult issues, where managers and union leaders start from very different places. We are working to understand each other, and to try to find common ground.

For more info, read on...


Of course, every round of negotiations will feel different. In the three or so years between contracts, things change. Each negotiations, SHARE welcomes a few new members to its team, and misses a few from before. That said, our team remains relatively constant: a majority of our team members have negotiated before. On the flip side, UMass Memorial has an entirely new Executive Leadership team since our previous negotiations, and the leadership of the hospital’s Labor Relations department has completely turned over since our last negotiations. This results in a new management negotiating team. While many of the members of their team bring significant experience to the table, the leaders of their team are experiencing Interest Based Bargaining for the first time.

The teams at the main table are also bigger than we’ve had in the past. This has the advantage of people bringing experiences from a wide range of departments to the discussion. Management's team is a combination of Human Resources people, and front-line and middle managers.

Though we are trying to use Interest Based Bargaining, we can't leave history behind entirely, and it’s easy to fall into old habits of traditional bargaining. We’re all working to establish good foundations for ongoing relationships, as we tackle some of the most ambitious subjects SHARE has addressed in negotiations.

A New Experiment: Co-Facilitation

One part of these negotiations that is new to everyone involved is “co-facilitation.” Our early training sessions and initial bargaining session were led by a facilitator, Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld. He trained two individuals from each side to act as neutrals, guiding the discussions about particular topics. The facilitators are:

  • Myra Shah, UMMMC Human Resources

  • Jeff Mogan, UMMMC Labor Relations

  • Will Erickson, SHARE

  • Elisabeth Szanto, SHARE

Although the facilitators each come from within the teams of negotiators, when they’re in the role of co-facilitator, they put on a different hat. Their job is to make sure that the conversation is flowing, and that we’re driving toward conclusions efficiently. They also help to make sure that notes are being captured accurately. (One other unique aspect of this negotiations is that notes are being taken and displayed, in real time, on an overhead projector.)


We’ll keep the updates coming on the blog. To learn more, and weigh in about either of the topics we’ve discussed, and about what topics are coming up, please join us at an upcoming SHARE Information Meeting about Contract Negotiations.