1. What is your title?
a. UniServ Director (Unified Services Director) for Boulder Valley Education Association
2. What do you do in this position?
a. Full-time staff at BVEA for teachers
b. He meets with local education leaders
c. Negotiates contracts
d. Enforces contracts
e. Does organizational development
3. I know you say you negotiate, mediate, and arbitrate. What do each of these terms mean in relation to what you do?
a. Negotiation is a process of sitting down with representatives from the Board of Education and try to arrive at an agreement on salaries, benefits, and terms of employment
b. Mediation is used when the parties reach an impasse in negotiations, a neutral third party helps them come to an agreement
c. Arbitration is when a third party steps in and makes the decisions – kind of like a trial. This is usually used to hear grievances – reprimands and discipline of teachers. The teacher will file a grievance and if there isn’t a resolution, arbitration is brought in.
4. How did you learn to negotiate? Did you learn it law school? By experience? Natural talent?
a. He learned on the job (at AFSCME)
b. During college he worked with a city councilperson and used him as a mentor
c. He has worked extensively with the NEA (National Education Association) and now trains others in the art of negotiation
5. What do you enjoy about the negotiation process?
a. Solving problems – working with teachers trying to get some control over the workplace finding solutions
b. Being an advocate
c. Getting ready to bargain - listening to employees about their vision and how great their workplace can be
d. Helping them grow as individuals
e. Negotiations are kind of a scorecard of the union’s successes and failures of what they’re trying to achieve
6. What don’t you enjoy about the process of negotiation?
a. Frustrating when people are “stuck on stupid” and can’t see it
b. When he and the union actually have to exercise power (i.e. strike) This is not fun for anyone involve
7. When do you decide to concede on items?
a. No two sessions are the same
b. Human emotions come into play
c. Intangibles are involved
d. Dynamics of the ‘players’ – who gets along with whom
e. Personal lives of the negotiators – bad day can affect someone’s willingness to give concessions
8. How often are the teachers’ contracts negotiated?
a. This varies, usually 1-3 years
b. Recently signed a 1-year contract, but currently working with a 2-year contract
9. Are the contracts negotiated from scratch or do you take the existing contracts and renegotiate them each time?
a. He uses a variety of techniques
i. Depends on what the members (constituents) want changed
1. They deal with non-economic things (i.e. ability to transfer, how teacher evaluations are presented, teachers’ rights, processes, student discipline)
2. They also work with financial needs (salaries, benefits)
ii. In Traditional bargaining they write proposals
1. Members are educated, informed, and committed to what union is going to do
2. They get broad support for changes
3. Formal meetings are set up
iii. In interest-based bargaining, each party deals with what they’re interested in
1. Example he used – husband wants to go to Vegas, wife wants to go to San Fran
a. They can settle on something neither wants to do
b. They can pick one or the other (win-lose)
c. They can discuss other options and discover that the idea of a cruise appeals to both of them
2. Both parties must be committed and have relative equality of power
a. Example – 6-year-old that throws a fit because he doesn’t want to go to bed, does not have equal power with the parent
10. Do you go in to negotiations with an idea of what the other side wants with the idea of trying to get what’s best for both sides, or do you only concern yourself with what your side wants?
a. Union negotiation is kind of like a marriage – this is an ongoing relationship
b. You could go for what you immediately want (like buying a car) but in union negotiation, each negotiation impacts the next negotiation
c. You have to distribute limited resources and persuade the Board to prioritize spending (influence how they perceive priorities for spending)
11. When negotiations fail the teachers strike – how does the negotiation end up there?
a. Someone (or more than one person) is ‘stuck on stupid’
b. There is a perception of respect and value
i. If they perceive the other party is being disrespectful, they will ‘get stuck on stupid’
c. Union is good if you don’t have to exercise power
d. Negotiation is all about power
e. Unions are people joining together for the collective good (en masse = more power)
i. A single teacher asking for a raise, probably won’t get it, a group of teachers asking for a raise has more power, therefore more likely to achieve their goal
f. Negotiation is very easy when both parties have equal power
g. How do you negotiate? Make sure you are in the power position
12. How do you know what to ask for?
a. The union is made up of constituencies and the constituents have groups (elementary school teachers or art teachers or science teachers)
b. 90% of negotiation (concessions) happens in last 10% of the negotiation
i. Most of the constituents must have a stake in the end result (cannot settle issues too early)
c. Order is important
i. Teams develop strategy
1. Easier to harder
2. Agree, agree, agree (he calls it logrolling)
3. Harder to easier
ii. What you perceive as most successful
iii. Planning is key!!!!
iv. May not reach agreement until have full agreement