Interest-based bargaining key to success

April 13, 2010

By Retired GS&T Dan Johnson

In the January issue of UTU News, the two-page centerfold summarized provisions of the Railway Labor Act.

In the February issue, I explained how the Railway Labor Act is purposely designed to encourage both sides to reach a mutually acceptable solution that keeps the trains running.

In the March issue, I discussed the role of the National Mediation Board and the value of joint labor-management problem solving at the negotiating table, which is called “interest-based bargaining.”

After several years of unfruitful hostile bargaining by the previous administration, International President Mike Futhey used interest-based bargaining in January 2008 to reach a national agreement with the major railroads — an agreement overwhelmingly ratified by our membership.

With the national contract again open for amendment, President Futhey and the UTU national contract negotiating team are again pursuing interest-based bargaining with the carriers to produce a contract beneficial to both sides.

Successful joint problem solving requires that both sides understand the needs of the other.

Labor’s challenge in interest-based bargaining is to have a solid understanding of carrier economics. It is not good enough to say we simply want something, because that list is endless.