Navigating the labor landscape is a continuous process since it has changed and continues to evolve. For the past several years, labor unions and the bargaining unit leadership have had to approach the negotiation process from a very different perspective. The lagging economy and the impact on manufacturing specifically have required a very different bargaining technique. As Collective Bargaining Units have been either renewed as is, renegotiated to less than the unions liking or agreed to be extended; the circumstances have been less than ideal. During this time companies have restructured, cut expenses and found ways to operate in a more cost effective manner and not reinvest in an unstable market. As noted in many business publications and balance sheets, US businesses have more cash on hand and available as the economy improves. The unions are aware of this fact as well and have committed to their membership that they will ‘get back’ the provisions given up in past negotiations. The companies are also prepared to hold the current contract negotiation processes and vow not to return to old contract terms. As a result, should the company and union leadership not come to an agreement at the bargaining table, the company is prepared to ‘lockout’ the union versus the union declaring a strike. As evidenced in the NY Times article below, this very well may be the trend for the foreseeable future.
More Lockouts as Companies Battle Unions
America’s unionized workers, buffeted by layoffs and stagnating wages, face another phenomenon that is increasingly throwing them on the defensive: lockouts.
From the Cooper Tire factory in Findlay, Ohio, to a country club in Southern California and sugar beet processing plants in North Dakota, employers are turning to lockouts to press their unionized workers to grant concessions after contract negotiations deadlock. Even the New York City Opera locked out its orchestra and singers for more than a week before settling the dispute last Wednesday.
Many Americans know about the highly publicized lockouts in professional sports — like last year’s 130-day lockout by the National Football League and the 161-day lockout by the National Basketball Association — but lockouts, once a rarity, have been used in less visible industries as well. Read more…