The Negotiator Magazine

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negotiated agreement with its existing employing organization, and the reverse is also true.

Outcomes

Before negotiations reach the agreement stage, both union and management will have conducted ongoing information sharing with its constituency. Each party determines how to develop support for the final agreement. Without this advance work, an agreement will fail. It is not uncommon for a union or an employer to refuse to enter into an agreement it believes is not supported by the other party's constituency. For example, if the employer needs to improve productivity, it will not sign a productivity incentive plan it believes the union cannot or will not "sell" to its members.

Because the continuing strength of the labor management relationship is critical, a win-lose outcome in collective bargaining is not a viable option. As in non-labor situations, where the ongoing relationship is critical to the durability of the agreement, a union-management contract that has a loser will result in turmoil and hostility, at best, and complete failure of the enterprise, at worst. Long before win-win negotiating became popularized, unions and managers have historically sought to craft agreements that meet (at least some of the critical) needs of both parties.

Mary Ellen Shea is a Senior Trainer with The Negotiation Skills Company. An experienced mediator, arbitrator and trainer, Ms. Shea completed her studies at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. She has done additional graduate studies at MIT, the University of Massachusetts Labor Institute and is a graduate of Northeastern University. You may contact Mary Ellen Shea at the Negotiation Skills Company by E-mail at tnsc@negotiationskills.com and visit the firm's web site at www.negotiationskills.com

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