Contract Negotiations: Negotiating about How to Negotiate

 Joel told the packed classroom, “There are three keys to a successful negotiation: preparing, preparing, preparing.” We were there--almost forty of us, both members of the SHARE and UMass Memorial management Negotatiating Teams and leaders, in a series of three half-day training sessions--to learn about different ways of negotiating.

In past Contract Negotiations, SHARE has used a model of bargaining that begins with open conversation about interests – what each side cared about. We’ve worked toward “expanding the pie”, rather than fighting over who’s getting the bigger piece of pie. When we try to focus on our common ground, we are more likely to find “win-win” solutions.

In these negotiations, SHARE is focusing on the day-to-day experience of coming to work for SHARE members. Taking on this huge issue makes it even more important that SHARE and management be able to negotiate productively. SHARE and UMass Memorial management have agreed to use Interest Based Bargaining to try to craft solutions for a better way of working at UMass Memorial.

Our teacher and facilitator for these trainings was Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld. He’s a professor at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. He has studied labor-management partnership in the Kaiser Permanente hospital network. He also helped Ford and the United Auto Workers Union to form a Labor Management Partnership. That partnership helped Ford so much they were the only major US automaker that didn’t require federal funding during the recent industry bailout. More important to us than all his academic accomplishments: Joel’s been a huge to both union and management in guiding us forward.