If I Were Running A Company…History

We learn history so we learn not to make the same mistakes in the future. As we hear a lot of union talk lately from the teachers strike in Chicago, the Walmart strike on Black Friday, and the NHL Lockout, there are some that learn their lesson and some trying to push it further.

The reason we have unions is to prevent management to take advantage of their workers. You hear union critics that they shouldn’t be unionized because they should be free to join and shouldn’t be forced into an association or union. There are many point-counterpoints on unions, but the overall point is you must have a plan and communicate to not only at the negotiating table, but to your constituents.

On the Chicago teachers’ strike, Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, wanted to pay teachers based on performance and longer school hours. The teachers union, which is one of the highest in the nation, wanted to be compensated for longer hours. Although Emanuel wanted to reform the school system, he did not want to follow the path Adrian Fenty and Michelle Rhee did when they wanted to reform education in D.C. The deal was ratified and agreed upon.

On the Walmart Black Friday walkout, although Walmart workers are not unionized, they stage a walkout disputing on wages and working conditions. While they were standing up to their values, Walmart’s business continue on without a hitch. Although it didn’t make a dent on the shopping, Walmart is listening if their workers keep up the strikes and expands.

The two examples I use learned their lesson from their own or other experiences. I cannot say the same thing about the NHL lockout (to get updates on the NHL Lockout, read Puck Daddy on Yahoo!). There are reasons for the lockout, but the main one is the owners want to reduce hockey-related revenue for players down from 57% to 46%. The NHL Players Association (NHLPA), specifically Executive Director, Don Fehr, wanted revenue sharing; the same model he establish for MLB. The problem is in negotiations as the owners want the NHLPA to start their negotiation point at their proposal, which you know in negotiation 101, you don’t do that in an agreement. The ongoing lockout has caused the NHL to cancel the Winter Classic, the NHL All-Star Game, and half of the regular season and possibly the whole season, again. When your league goes on lockout twice in seven years, the NHL have not learn their lessons not only with other sports leagues, but their own experiences in 2004.

What people  need to learn is negotiations are to update the current climate, from monetary to innovative reasons. Negotiations are suppose to smooth out what happened in the past and learn from it. There will be divided issues both sides have to deal with, but we negotiate to keep up with the times. In collective bargaining or in your personal negotiations, learn what you have done before, ask others for advice, and come with a plan(s) because no one expects to gets a complete victory.  That is why history teaches us to learn from the past to make fewer mistakes in our current time.

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