A Model of Union and Labor Management Partnership

Though for a long time unions and the management of most organizations have acted like adversaries, the need to cater union members’ welfare for better productivity is bringing them together. The employers are increasingly seeking to enter into partnerships to ensure their interests are taken into consideration. It has been viewed as a positive way of ensuring that businesses thrive in the current highly competitive business environment. It works well with the current shift to down-top management of organizations, which has worked well based on the positive relationship between the unions and their members as opposed to that between the members and their employers. In this paper, a model of union and the various labor partnerships and practices are examined. Labor practices are critical in determining the relationship between the employer and labor union members. Good practices promote cordial work relationships, but unfair practices are likely to affect good working relations to the detriment of both, the employer and union members. This is where collective bargaining comes in to ensure that the partnership between unions and employers is agreeable to all parties. Labor unions, thus, play a significant role on behalf of the union members, especially during collective bargaining. 

One Union that was Part of the Integrated Managed Care Consortium and Labor Management Partnership

Among the systems that were part of the Integrated Managed Care Consortium and Labor Management partnership is Kaiser Permanente. This consortium is based in Oakland, California, United States. Industrialist Henry J. Kaiser and physician Sidney Garfield founded the consortium in 1945. Currently, Kaiser Permanente has approximately 10.1 million members in the following regions; Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Mid-Atlantic States, Northern California, Northwest and Southern California. In this assignment, Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) is discussed. The union of healthcare workers is driven by the need to improve the healthcare. Its mission is to provide quality for all patients, expand access to care, ensure affordability and improve the living standards of all workers. The United Healthcare Workers West is an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) considered the fastest growing union in North America. SEIU is focused on uniting workers in the main service sectors to ensure that lives are improved, and this also translates to a better service at the work place. At SEIU-UHW, the board is the highest leadership body. It sets the vision and program of the local union and moves fellow members into action for good jobs and better healthcare throughout California. 

The Type of Union (Craft, Industrial, General, White Collar) and Whether it is a Federation or Local Union

SEIU-UHW is one of the largest Unions of hospital workers in the Western United States, with more than 80,000 members. The members of the union are frontline caregivers for instance, respiratory care practitioners, environmental, dietary services as well as nursing staff in California. The members live and work in entire California. Therefore, this is a white collar union. Apart from Kaiser Permanente where some of the members of SEIU-UHW work, other members of the union also work in other private hospitals and clinics such as Dignity Health, Sutter Health, Prime, Tenet and Daughters of Charity. SEIU-UHW is a union for local workers. The local union has been able to fight for members improved job security, protection of pension, salary raises every year and improved healthcare. For instance, some members of the union have raised the concern that though groceries, housing costs as well as other basic costs have gone up over the years and corporations continue to make huge profits, wages for members have not kept up. Raising the minimum wage would help union members and their families. Through the Fair Wage Act of 2016 the members of the union expect their wages to raise a minimum of $ 1 a year until 2021 when the raise is expected to reach $15 a year to ensure that full-time workers meet their needs and their families’.  

Identification and Explanation of 5 Key Elements that Made this Partnership so Successful

There are a number of elements that made the partnership between SEIU-UHW and Kaiser Permanente successful. Firstly, there is a culture of engagement between the local workers union and Kaiser Permanente. The Integrated Managed Care Consortium and the local labor management leadership, staff and service providers have always been involved in creating engagement vision. This has seen increased enthusiasm in implementing various projects and strategies. Union members have been made aware that they are valued and are free to participate in the discussion with Kaiser Permanente on matters where they feel aggrieved. Secondly, officials of Kaiser Permanente and those of the local labour union have always been willing to chart progress and change. Senior management from both sides have reviewed range of options that are critical for structuring relations with members to respond to changes that occur in the partnership environment. When the management of the local union agreed to set a joint working party, areas of common ground and broad principles have been developed. Common workplace characteristics of partnerships at the places of work have been identified considering differing interests, cooperative processes (the conflicts that needs to be avoided) as well as participation in decision making early enough. It is done through consultation or joint decision making between SEIU-UHW officials and Kaiser Permanente management team. 

The third element is the nature of the local union management relations before the partnership agreement. Kaiser Permanente, which is the main federation, has always endeavored to make changes in labor management practices and policies that benefit the local union members. Specifically, the areas that have received special consideration include improvement of local union members’ pension, job security, healthcare and salary rises. For instance, terms and conditions of the local union members have been improved to a point that both partners consider the members market leaders in terms of the labor relations issues that they had raised. The fourth element for the success of the partnership was the overwhelming agreement on the approach that was taken. The union officials considered the approach beneficial to the members. Likewise, Kaiser considered the approach because it had the potential of averting possible industrial action, which could have tainted its name. Finally, communication was also an important element. Both partners have had the opportunity to communicate respectfully and with regard to the concerns raised by one another. Frequent communications have helped to dispel rumors and create reassurance to the union. 

 

Whether the Model Could Work in Other Organizations 

This model where a local labour union (SEIU-UHW)  partners with a national federation  can work in other organizations since the internal message architecture that has been created through collaboration with national communicators, the eight regions where they operate as well as with medical groups are applicable in other organizations. Normally, organizations require online tools that allow members of the labour union to learn about their missions as well as strategic imperatives. In addition, managers in most of the other labour organizations require self-paced online modules on how to communicate about their organizations. Undoubtedly, these features are found in the Integrated Managed Care Consortium and Labor Management Partnership. In the Integrated Managed Care Consortium and Labor Management Partnership union members are informed with relevant information. Whether it is positive or negative information, union members have to receive this information before the public receives it; this forms a basic principle of strong organizational communication.

In the current Partnership, union members are informed adequately through their political staffs who engage with the national federation of labour; thus, they have become deeply involved in the activities of the organization. Member of the union have also developed a sense of ownership for the brand. Due to positive feeling, the union members get involved; feel valued and equipped to represent the organization in the best light. 

Good Faith Bargaining

Good faith bargaining refers to the way how the parties taking part in agreement negotiation are required to behave.  It means that the parties to an agreement have to be sincere when trying to agree. To show good faith bargaining, both parties have to agree to attend and participate in meetings. Failure to attend or participate means that bargaining cannot even start in the first place. The parties that are intending to bargain must also meet at a reasonable time when each party is able to bargain freely. Next, the parties to an agreement must be ready and willing to disclose all the relevant information that the other parties in the bargain need to know. However, information that is considered confidential or commercially sensitive may not be disclosed. The disclosure has to take place in a timely manner. 

Whenever a party makes a proposal, the other party must be willing to respond to the proposal so that an agreement can be reached in a timely manner. Whenever a proposal is made by one party, the representatives of the other party have to give a genuine consideration. The parties have to refrain from unfair conducts that may dent collective bargaining. Good faith bargaining does not require a representative to make concessions when trying to reach a bargain. Also, any bargaining representative is not required to reach agreement on those terms that have been included in the agreement.

Definition of Impasse 

An impasse occurs when the employer and union have reached a point during negotiations when both parties are reasonable to assume that negotiations have reached a deadlock. At this stage, usually the final stage, both parties cannot make any further concession and there is also no agreement. In such a case, the American labor law provides limits to the employer. An employer has the permission to implement changes to the terms and conditions that are in line with the previous proposals made to the union. However, the employer is not allowed to offer greater benefits or benefits that differ from the ones that were presented during negotiations. 

Firstly, the employer will maintain status quo. Secondly, the employer can implement the last offer. Thirdly, the employer has the option of locking out the workers of the union and even freezing employment. Moreover, the employer can negotiate a different interim agreement with the union. Finally, the employer can allow the non-union members such as supervisors to do the duties of the striking workers. Labor management comes to impasse when there is no good faith bargaining. One representative may fail to give the representative of the other party a genuine consideration. For instance, if it was a pay dispute, labor union members may have failed to consider economic situations that may have prevented employer from giving him/her the salary he/she wants. The parties may have failed to refrain from unfair conducts that may dent collective bargaining. All these practices can cause an impasse. 

The Three Items that are Mandatory in the Collective Bargaining (e.g. items that must be in the union contract). Explain they these are mandatory items for a collective bargaining contract

Collective bargaining are often lengthy, detailed and are accompanied by legal documents that cover all aspects of the working relationship between the management and labour union members on behalf of the members. They have articles and clauses in the collective bargaining agreement. One of the items that are found in collective bargaining agreement is the fringe benefit. The section consists of paid and unpaid vacation days, sick leave, holidays, maternity leave, health care coverage, jury duty, pension as well as other retirement savings. The other item found in collective bargaining is the procedure to follow whenever there is a grievance. 

During the bargain, an agreement has to be made on how disputes will be resolved when matters such as unfair firings or pay discrepancies occur. Grievances have to be written down and the method of arbitration chosen by both parties if possible. The third item that cannot be missed in the collective bargaining is salary and wages. Unions and management have to agree on the wages that members of the local labor union should be paid per hour. In addition, overtime rules for different jobs have to be covered in the agreement. The three items are very important in any collective bargaining because they are pertinent to labour union members whose interests the unions represent. 

One Illegal Item that is Forbidden by Law to be Included in the Collective Bargaining Process

The illegal item that is forbidden by law is the racial discrimination at workplace. Racial discrimination entails unfair treatment of a section of labour union members because of the color of their skin, hair texture, or due to particular facial features. The law forbids discrimination from employment in the following aspects; hiring, pay, firing, job assignments and promotions, fringe benefits, training, lay off as well as any other employment condition that comes with prejudice. During collective bargaining, unions are not permitted to discriminate against some of their members because of the color of their skin or texture of their hair. Apart from that, unions are not allowed by law to advocate for some of their members to be paid higher salaries than their colleagues who perform the same jobs. The law calls for equal opportunity and equal treatment for all. The employers too, are not allowed by the law to make utterances that indicate their preferences for certain category of union members based on their racial origins. The law does not allow this kind of item to be included in collective bargaining because any union member who finds himself/herself in such a situation is allowed to seek legal redress in a court of law. The practice undermines human dignity. 

Conclusion

This paper examined the Integrated Managed Care Consortium and Labor Management Partnership and its importance in labor relations. It is evident that for an effective collective bargaining, good faith bargaining is required. However, an impasse may occur if the representatives fail to adhere to the good principles of collective bargaining. During collective bargaining, there are important elements that cannot be missed in the discussion. As it has already been discussed, collective bargaining must be accompanied by the relevant legal documents that cover all aspects of the working relationship being negotiated. Another item that is found in collective bargaining agreement is the fringe benefits. Finally, any collective bargaining agreement should have the procedure to follow whenever there is a grievance. It should spell out the parties that must agree on how disputes will be resolved when matters such as unfair firings or pay discrepancies occur. The three items are very important in any collective bargaining because they are pertinent to the members of the union whose interests the union officials represent. However, there are also sensitive matters that can only be determined in a court of law; thus, they cannot be included in a collective bargaining process. 

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Jun 5, 2019 in Law Essay Samples