Bargaining Update : 12.19.06
We held the final bargaining session of the year on Tuesday (and if you had December 31, 2006 in the pool as the date a new contract would be reached, you're probably in for a disappointment.)
Tuesday's session wasn't nearly as productive as the previous one, where we took some small, but positive, steps on the subject of premium pay, and we had begun to hope that the prospects for bargaining were improving. Tuesday brought us back to earth.
We still haven't started discussing the main subjects we need to resolve— wages, health benefits, outsourcing. Tuesday's unpleasantness involved the company's desire to end the contract provision that protects us from sudden increases in inflation— and from which we benefited just this year. As we tried to suggest ways to deal with their concerns without ending our protections, the other side suddenly lapsed into a bitter criticism of our negotiating style.
The personal criticism doesn't matter. What's disappointing is to have to spend time on that instead of on the issues.
We are hoping that the outburst was a case of holiday jitters— a simple reflection that they haven't finished all their Christmas shopping and the kids are getting worried. Hopefully, when we pick up talks again in January, it all will be old news.
All of this reminds us of an important fact. We can't expect the other side to give us anything at the bargaining table just in order to be kind. As always, our success will depend on our willingness to stand up for ourselves and insist on a quality contract for quality people.
Bargaining Committee Chair
IAPE CWA 1096