The substance of the conflict between the Employer and the Employees in the situation described is that the Employer wants effective work, while the Employees wish to appropriate working conditions. It’s evident that both sides are ready and able to provide what the other side demands, but only in case their needs are also satisfied to the maximum extent.
To resolve this impasse different negotiation strategies can be used. If we use positional bargaining, we try to reach a compromise between the demands of both sides. When using positional bargaining the sides are not forced to change their position, and when the positions are not extreme, the satisfying outcome can be reached using this strategy. In the given case, the positions of the sides of the conflict are not excessive. Thus the possibility to reach a satisfying compromise is quite high.
The sides already agree that the employees should be provided with appropriate conditions for fulfilling their duties. The same for both positions is that: “When assigning work, supervisors will take into consideration environmental conditions, such as extreme heat or cold and availability of utilities required to do the work, and will make appropriate accommodations.” The negotiated issue in this part is the list of the “appropriate conditions”. Employers state that those conditions are electricity and heat, while the Employees require electricity, phones, and water. The Employees also require that those, who are required to work outside, should not be exposed to temperatures below 25 degrees F, wind-chill factor included, for periods of more than 15 minutes, without a subsequent 30-minute period in a heated area.
Using positional bargaining, we can advise the sides to reach a compromise over these issues. For example, the list of the appropriate conditions would consist of electricity, heat, and water. The requirement of the Employees not to expose those, who work outside to temperatures below 25 degrees F without an appropriate period in a heated area can also be satisfied, if we increase the period of their work outside to 30 minutes, or decrease the period of their rest to 15 minutes.
The Employees also require that people who provide life support, road clearance, and other crucial missions which cannot be interrupted not delayed, should be assigned as the ‘emergency essential’ Employees. They agree that those workers may be required to report for duty despite delay or closures or to remain at work when directed to do so, and may be disciplined if they fail to make reasonable efforts to report for duty, but state that the list of those employers should be forwarded to the Union prior to the proposed effective date and the Union should be provided the opportunity to negotiate.
Compromise can be reached here if the sides will agree that the people who provide life support, road clearance, and other crucial missions which cannot be interrupted nor delayed and people, who perform duties which are vital to medical facilities, public safety, national defence or other work exigencies may be designated as Emergency Essential personnel, and the list of those employers should be forwarded to the Union prior to the proposed effective date, and the Union should be provided the opportunity to negotiate over this list.
In this case, the interests of both sides are satisfied only in part. Both sides have to refuse from some part of their requirements in order to reach compromise over the problematic issues.
Another strategy that can be used for solving this impasse is interest-based, or integrative bargaining. In this case, we have to find out the underlying interests of both sides. We have to explore, what leads the sides to these positions, and what makes them stand on them.
When analyzing the situation we can conclude that the main interest of the Employer is that the administrative work required in the combatant and peacekeeping missions should be performed in any conditions.
The interests of the Employees are that they should be protected against negative weather conditions, and that they should have appropriate conditions for performing their duties. Moreover, the Employees want to have considerable influence on the decisions the Employers make considering them. The main interest of the Employees, as we can conclude, is being protected, while the Employers are mostly interested in the effective performance of duties.
Using the interest-based strategy, one of the steps towards solving this conflict would be explaining sides the interests of the opposite ones. At first, we should explain that the Employers that being protected is the main concern of the Employees, and the Employees should know that Employers care of the effectiveness of the unit.
Then the representatives of the sides should be invited to think over the options that can satisfy the interests of both the Employees and the Employers. The main difference from positional bargaining here is that the sides have to compromise over interests, and not over positions, and compromising over interests gives much more options for solving the impasse. Moreover, the situation is often that the interests of both sides can be satisfied without having to refuse something.
One of the interest-based solutions for this problem would be that the Employees will be guaranteed top medical service in case their work hurts their health. To make the Employees ready to cooperate, the Employers should demonstrate that they take care of their personnel. They may do it by providing top medical insurance for them, by increasing the terms of vacations for the essential emergency personnel, generally speaking, by providing them better social package than they already have. The Employees also want to feel that they have a voice in deciding about the designations of the Emergency Essential personnel. It would be wise for the Employer to agree that The Union has the opportunity to negotiate over the list of the Emergency Essential workers, as it would help the Employees to ensure that they have a voice in the decision-making process, that their opinion is considered. It would help to empower the Employees.
The last strategy we may use for resolving the impasse is hard bargaining. The sides of the conflict are mutually dependent, their relations with each other are crucial for their work, but they have the option of parting all the time. The Employees may find another company to work for, while the Employers can hire other personnel. Thus the sides would not be ready to rebate; the extent, towards which they would be ready to compromise would be minimal. Hence the decision for solving the impasse should be built to consider the maximum interest of both sides.
Nevertheless, in the hard bargaining one side has to “lose,” to refuse from the greatest part of the gain. In this situation this is the Employer, as it would be harder for him to find new personnel, who has the skills needed to work in specific conditions, and who are ready to work far from home, often being under the threat of violent death, than for the qualified Employees to find the job with better conditions. Thus, using hard bargaining, the Employer would have to agree to all the conditions the Employees put him.
As we can see, different negotiation strategies exist. There are no good or bad strategies; they are just more or less effective in this or that situation. It’s obvious that in this situation, where a win-win outcome is possible integrative or interest-based bargaining is the most effective strategy. Positional and hard bargaining may be effective in the situations, where there are more principled differences between the positions of the sides, and where their interests are opposite.
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