Stakeholders Influence in Labor-Management Dispute
- A labor-management stakeholder can be a person, group or organization who affects or can be affected by a labor-management relationship. Who are the stakeholders in this case? Explain the interests of these stakeholders.
- How can these stakeholders influence this labor-management dispute?
bargaining over how to bargain
On July 31, 2002, the university and UAW reached an agreement to begin contract negotiations in the fall (Fitzgibbons, 2002, August 9). In a joint statement, both sides praised the breakthrough. The associate provost said, “The university will face a number of challenges in the coming months, including serious budgetary constraints. … We believe this is a time when all members of the university community need to pull together to address these challenges and when all our collective talents and energies must be devoted to that end. We are pleased with our mutual agreement to separate academic [e.g., grading policies and the student code of conduct] from employment issues, and we look forward to a productive bargaining relationship with the R A union.”
James Shaw said, “This is a historic day for organized labor and the UAW. Today’s agreement shows that unions are appropriate for all workers, including undergraduate student workers. Unions bring democracy into the workplace, and democracy is always the right solution. We are looking forward to sitting down and bargaining a contract with the university … to meaningfully address the concerns of the R As and CDAs.” As part of the agreement, both sides pledged to refrain from further public comment about the deal (Fitzgibbons, 2002, August 9).
For the R As who had worked hard on the union organizing effort, the announcement was a huge relief. One R A said, “I’m very happy and relieved. We still have a lot of work to do now. We need to form a bargaining committee and put together our proposals, but we are excited at this historic opportunity.” Another R A said, “This is what we’ve all worked on for the past two years. Now that we have their commitment to working together with the R A union, we feel we can negotiate a contract that serves the interests of R As across the campus” (Fitzgibbons, 2002, August 9).
In early November 2002, a nine-member union bargaining committee was formed. The bargaining committee developed a set of contract proposals. The committee then presented the proposals to all the R As seeking ratification. The R As ratified the contract proposals (UAW Local 2322, 2010). On November 15, 2002, actual negotiations between the university and the R A union began. The union presented a 21-page proposal, whereas the university negotiators submitted a five-page proposal (Shaw, 2004). Bargaining continued for 14 months until the university and union bargaining teams agreed on a tentative contract that required ratification by the R As (UAW Local 2322, 2010).
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- What do you think were the key factors in getting both sides to agree to begin contract negotiations?
- What role does a bargaining committee play in contract negotiations?
- What role could HR play in contract negotiations?
- Why do you think it took 14 months to reach a tentative agreement?
- Why is the ratification process important?
- List the five items, issues or benefits you anticipate will be included in the contract that would be most important to the union. Next, list the five items or issues most important to the university.
yes, we have a contract
On December 11, 2003, the R As voted 96-1 in favor of ratifying their first collective bargaining agreement (Shaw, 2004). As shown in Exhibit B, the contract included wage increases in each year of the two-year agreement, retroactive to September 2003. The R A stipend increased from $50.29 a week ($1,710 per year) to $61.76 ($2,100 per year) for the 2003-2004 academic year, and to $64.71 ($2,200 per year) for first-year R As in the 2004-2005 academic year. R As returning for a second year received a stipend of $66.18 ($2,250 per year). The contract maintained the double room, Wellness Center privileges and telecom fee waivers, and a telephone fee waiver was added. In addition, R As received improved parking privileges.
R As now would be required to pay a $10 union initiation fee and union dues (about 2 percent of gross pay) to join and maintain union membership. R As could decide to not join or be a member of the union, but those who did would be required to pay an agency fee of about 1.5 percent of gross pay (Anonymous, 2002a). Through the agency fee, non-members pay for services provided by the union related to collective bargaining and contract administration activities but not for other union expenditures such as funds used for union organizing, lobbying or for political purposes.
The contract also included a binding four-step grievance/arbitration procedure. The range of issues covered by the grievance/arbitration procedure was limited. The contract stated: “A grievance may not be brought which addresses issues excluded from the scope of agreement described in Article 3. … The parties agree that any grievance in whole or in part raising issues excluded from the scope of agreement in Article 3 is exempted from … matters which may be submitted to arbitration” (Agreement Between the Board of Trustees and UAW Local 2322, 2003-2005).
Arbitration is a process where a neutral third party offers a final and binding decision to resolve a grievance. It is the last step in a grievance procedure in a unionized workplace.
26 © 2011 society for Human resource management. patrick p. mcHugh, ph.D.
Article 3 limited the parameters of negotiation and arbitration: “The parties agree that the subjects of negotiation and the scope of this agreement shall extend only to the wages, hours, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment for bargaining unit members and that the scope of this agreement shall explicitly exclude all academic matters and all non-employment matters related to the student status of bargaining unit members; and that there be no substitution of an arbitrator’s or any other individual’s judgment for that of the university with respect to any academic matter or any other aspect of a bargaining unit member’s status as a student. Matters explicitly excluded from the scope of negotiations and coverage of this agreement include, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, academic, disciplinary or other prerequisites for service or continued service as a member of the bargaining unit, as well as grading policies and practices, academic standards, the rules, standards, and administration of financial aid, and the code of student conduct, its administration and associated procedures” (Agreement Between the Board of Trustees and UAW Local 2322, 2003-2005).
On January 16, 2004, the university and the union signed the agreement with an expiration date of June 30, 2005 (UAW Local 2322, 2010).
- What percentage stipend increase did the RAs receive over the life of the two-year agreement? In each of the next two contracts, what was the percentage stipend increase (see Exhibit B)?
- What do you see as the costs and benefits of union representation for RAs?
- Why is Article 3 of the agreement important?
- Under the contract terms, which of these scenarios could result in an RA grievance?
- A concern about the allocation of parking privileges. b. Being turned down for a financial aid request that results in an RA
needing to resign from his or her position since he or she can no longer afford to attend the university.
- Receiving an arbitrarily low grade in a course, thereby dropping the RA’s GPA below that required to maintain the RA position.
- Removal from the RA position as a result of discipline arising from a supposed violation of the university’s alcohol policy under the code of student conduct.
- A disagreement with a resident director regarding the equitable assignment of weekend work hours.
- What information and recommendations do you think Flynn Oberond should convey to the administrators at Sofie College?
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List of abbreviations
AD Area director
AFSCME American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
ARD Area assistant director
CDA Community development assistant
GEO Graduate Employee Organization
GPA Grade point average
MLRC Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission
NLRA National Labor Relations Act
RA Resident assistant
RAC Resident Assistant Council
RD Resident director
UAW United Auto Workers
University of Massachusetts Amherst
28 © 2011 society for Human resource management. patrick p. mcHugh, ph.D.
abbreviated organizational chart for umass amherst (2000-2002)
senior vice chancellor for
academic affairs and Provost
associate Provost for development
and faculty relations
assistant vice chancellor for
associate vice chancellor for student affairs
and campus Life
department of residence Life
assistant vice chancellor for
communication and marketing
vice chancellor for administration
vice chancellor for student affairs and campus Life
vice chancellor for university advancement
- Labor Relations • Personnel