The key thing to remember about negotiations is that it takes a lot of face time. You cannot simply send e-mails back and forth and hope to reach an agreement. You cannot “phone it in” either. If you want a good contract you need to meet with the other side on a regular basis and always be prepared.
If you have been given an assignment (i.e., a cost out or new K language) do not arrive at a meeting with excuses for failing to meet deadlines. This leads to mistrust and delays the entire process.
Both sides (union and employer) must proof read the CBA many times with many sets of eyes. Everybody makes mistakes when they write. This is especially true when a group of people are writing a single document over a long period of time. That is why all good writers write more than one draft and make sure that the document it proof read several times.
Your must also proof read your final TA’d excel spread sheet. It is very easy to make a mistake on an excel spread sheet and not notice it until after it is pointed out to you by your boss. Spare yourself the pain and proof read your final spread sheets carefully.
Proof read your memo. In real life a short memo with attachments is the best way to get your information across to your superiors. The best writer on the team should write the memo.
Getting Near the End
As you near the end of the semester there is a temptation to “just get it done.” Both sides start to agree to items simply to finish the contract. This sloppy attitude leads to mistakes because contract negotiations require patience and a constant attention to detail.
The work you are asked to do in this class is tricky not because it is mentally difficult but rather because it requires diligence, common sense and time. So plan your schedules accordingly.
What is often said about contract negotiations is true: “The devil is in the details.”
Also remember that some of the big issues that have been festering throughout the negotiations now have to be addressed and settled. Sending e-mails rather than talking is bound to lead to confusion. Confusion will cost you time and mistakes. Click this link to see an example of why face to face meetings are crucial in negotiations.