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It’s Not Their Fault

by Kim Miller | January 11th, 2013

I negotiate collective agreements on behalf of employers. I sometimes come across clients who express anger and resentment towards “the union” with respect to collective agreement terms. They blame the union for contract clauses which cost them money or restrict their ability to manage the business. Fair enough, I say, “Why?” The answer usually is that the clauses were negotiated sometime in the past, sometimes by previous management, and often without a clear understanding of future implications. Both parties agreed: the union proposed, negotiations ensued, and both parties agreed. Don’t blame the union – they were only half of the agreement.

Shame on all of us who negotiate collective agreement terms without fully considering future implications. It may be that we feel that we have no option – and we may well have no good option – but don’t give up so easy. Employ all means to avoid getting boxed in, and if caught, fight long and hard to recover. If you fail, resolve to address the issue during the life of the collective agreement so that it may be resolved in the next round of negotiations.

Don’t give up. And don’t blame the union. It’s not their fault.

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