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    Collective Bargaining Case Study


    Paper Details

    Resource: Case Study: Good Management or Bargaining in Bad Faith? in Ch. 14 of Public Personnel Management

    Write a 1,400- to 1,750-word paper in which you address the following:

    What was the relationship like between city management and the unions? Were there any problems with this relationship? Did this relationship differ from normal relationships between management and unions in the public sector? 

    What was the collective bargaining process like? What was effective in this process? What should have been done differently? Was hard bargaining the best choice in this situation? Why? Were there any other options that could have been considered? 

    What were some of the challenges faced to reaching an agreement? Are these challenges normal? 

    What personal and public factors must be considered when determining which course of action to take?



Subject Administration Pages 6 Style APA


Collective Bargaining: A Case Study on Good Management and Bargaining in Bad Faith

Relationship between the City Management and the Unions

            The relationship between the city management and the unions can be described as good. This is because, all salaries and benefits of workers are negotiated with union representatives in good faith. According to Dawkins (2014), acting in good faith during a bargaining process involves having both parties meeting and discussing the issues presented with the aim of finding a solution that would be presentative of the people being represented by the parties. In Section 8(a)(5) of the Bargaining in good faith with employees’ union representative Act, the employer is allowed to bargain hard as long as the employer is willing to reach an agreement in good faith (NLRB, 2017). In hard bargaining, the main intention is to reduce costs though cutting employee benefits and salaries (Weiler, 2012). In the negotiation between the city management and the public works employees, the union officials and the city manager negotiated on the work plans and they all agreed on cutting the benefits and pay of the employees. Even during the negotiation of the issues with salary and benefits with the police unions, there seems to be a bias, aimed at favoring the police union.

Problems with the Relationship

            There were no problems with this relationship. This is because the city managers had an obligation to the Sunbelt city residents who demanded reduction in taxes and an efficient government. To achieve this, they knew they had to reduce expenses and used legitimate means to achieve this through hard bargaining. The process also effective as the union officials were correctly involved in this process.

Comparison with the Relationship between Managers and Unions in the Public Sector

            There is no significant difference between this relationship between the city managers and unions in this city and that between the managers and unions in the public sector. Typically, the city council office is a public office representing the Sunbelt city residents. All staff employed to work for the city are paid by taxes from the city residents and thus they are public servants. The relationship between the city managers and the unions representing them is therefore guided by the laws of Bargaining in good faith with employees’ union representative Act.

Collective Bargaining Process

            The collective bargaining process in this case was mainly hard bargaining in which both union and city management representatives negotiated the new benefits and salaries prior to implementation. The main focus was however aimed at reducing the salaries and benefits-to ensure lower taxes and efficiency, overall.

Efficiency of the Process and Possible Alternatives

            The most effective aspect of the hard bargaining process was the ability to negotiate and the use of threats to enforce the bargain. Without the threat to privatize the waste collection and public works, the city management was likely to face difficulties from the unions on agreeing on the new salaries and benefits. By applying the same on the police, it was difficult to reach an agreement due to the animosity created on the city manage representative. Since in both cases the bargaining processes were in good faith, the process should be upheld. The use of threats should however not have been used, instead, the city managers should have emphasized the role of the public as the drivers of the process-towards reducing taxes and increasing efficiency. Public hearings should have also been held towards illustrating to the unions that as public staff, they have an obligation to the people.

Hard Bargaining and Other types of Bargaining

            In this case, hard bargaining was the best approach towards negotiating the reduction of benefits among the unions. This is because, hard bargaining provided an opportunity to reduce the budget of these jobs and activities while allowing the city managers to protect and enhance the quality of the work. In case the city managers opted to outsource, they would have been able to reduce the costs just like in hard bargaining as the lowest contractor would have been appointed, however, it would be difficult to maintain and protect the quality of the process. In this case, the efficiency of the work would decline, thus undermining the expectations of the public. The use of threats along with the bargain was therefore one of the approaches towards ensuring the desired work relationship is achieved. Contracting would therefore expose the city management to both short and long term challenges. The current bargaining approach is therefore strategic as the current staff do not lose much of their benefits, instead, they work more in the friendliest work schedule and allow for the transition to the lower pay plan.

Another type of bargaining that could have been used is the distributive bargaining. In this type of bargaining, the parties are engaged in a competitive manner since they both believe that the outcome would allow either of them to win or lose (Dur & Mateo, 2010). Each party is therefore bound to protect their interests and seek win other than lose though the negotiations. By applying this form of bargaining, the city managers would least likely get to an agreement with the unions since they would not want their members to feel defeated or as losers. The approach is also unnecessary in this case since the idea was to negotiate for a reduction in salaries for reduced city expenditure and not to build nor destroy any reputation. Finally, soft bargaining is like hard bargaining, but, in soft bargaining, the intention is to protect the friendship of the conflicting parties (Weiler, 2012). Its application in this case is therefore not significant as both city managers and union representatives are operating on an official capacity and not on any friendly relation. In the hard bargaining approach used by the city manages in this case study, both parties in the case gain from the negotiation. However, they remain official public servants to the city.

Challenges in Reaching an Agreement

In the public works case, there are no challenges highlighted. The city managers were however determined towards achieving their goals and thus had to use a threat to promote their agenda. Cutting salaries and benefits was likely to be met with major resistance but the threat eliminated the possibility of any challenges. Nonetheless, in the attempt to use hard bargaining on the police, the first challenge was using a threat on this population since the police were able to influence public and council opinion. With this influence, the police were able to convince populations that they were being mistreated and the public would be forced to take action against the council officials. Second, the city council was unable to remain steadfast to its agenda despite the support from bargaining regulatory agency that the city manager adopted a good bargaining approach. According to Venn (2009), challenges are eminent in bargaining initiatives between employers and employees. The threat of a backlash is specifically common in public institutions as the public is easily influenced by the person the highest influence. The public is also bound to be emotive on such instances and entities can use such emotions to protect their interests. It can also be argued that the city councilors or managers were careful not to lose their positions and thus were easily influenced by police through the Police Benevolent Association. Although they were acting in the interest of the public which was already feeling that the policing standards would deteriorate, the council should have reminded the public of the initial agenda. Instead, it opted fire the council representative in the case.

Personal and Public Factors to be Considered

            The main intention of the planned reforms was to increase efficiency and reducing taxation. To achieve this, the council knew that it had to cut its expenditure in most of its institutions and promote efficiency for overall value and quality. In this regard, the bargaining plans were to be done while considering specific personal and public factors. The first public factor to be considered is the overall objective of the bargaining process. The public elected the council officials on the need to reduce taxes and thus the council should have defended its bargaining initiatives as part of the plans to cut expenses. Furthermore, the public should have been engaged on which institutions should be engaged in the cost cutting plans since some institutions are highly critical to the society like the police and health institutions. The public should also have been kept informed of the entire approach to the negotiations. The council officials should also have agreed in unison on the to support the city manager or representative negotiating on their behalf as they had already been considered to be bargaining in good faith.

            On the other hand, the main personal issues to be considered were; first, the plan to cut the expenses were universally agreed on by the council and a plan by a single institution. Second, the police department should not have viewed themselves as victims of a process but part of a broad process. By thinking that they were being targeted, the bargaining process seemed like a personal target to the police. For this reason, the city council should have initiated the bargaining plans as part of broad cost-cutting process. This process should have been popularized while illustrating that the process was universal and would factor numerous other institutions across the city. By choosing to let the city manager work independently, his actions were viewed as independent and thus a personal initiative against institutions within the city. It would have been better for the entire council to communicate and support the city manager’s activities rather than remaining silent on the issue. By acting in unison as a council, the public would have been able to view the actions of the city manager as generally public oriented as opposed to viewing it as a personal issue, orchestrated by the city manager alone. Overall the bargaining process could have been viewed as a public initiative based on a public plan. This would have supported the success of the plan especially among the police as they would also view it as a public directive.



Dawkins, C.E., 2014. The principle of good faith: Toward substantive stakeholder engagement. Journal of Business Ethics, 121(2), pp.283-295.

Dür, A. and Mateo, G., 2010. Bargaining power and negotiation tactics: The negotiations on the EU’s financial perspective, 2007–13. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, 48(3), pp.557-578.

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), 2017. Bargaining in good faith with employees’ union representative (Section 8(d) & 8(a)(5)). Online Source. Available from: https://www.nlrb.gov/rights-we-protect/whats-law/employers/bargaining-good-faith-employees-union-representative-section

Venn, D., 2009. Legislation, collective bargaining and enforcement.

Weiler, F., 2012. Determinants of bargaining success in the climate change negotiations. Climate Policy, 12(5), pp.552-574.



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