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Conference focuses on improved employee relations.

On January 24-26, more than, 115 foundrymen and women gathered on Marco Island, Florida, for the 1996 AFS Labor Relations & Human Resource Conference. The three-day conference offered metalcasters the opportunity to network and learn about the latest in employee relations, union relations, workers' compensation, arbitration and mediation, safety and collective bargaining.

Positive Employee Discipline

Dick Grote, Grote Consulting, the conference keynote speaker, encouraged foundries to make their discipline programs positive coaching and learning exercises rather than antagonistic punishment policies.

Referring to his book, Discipline Without Punishment, Grote emphasized the need to persuade employees to commit to changing their behavior, as opposed to arguing about an issue or scolding the worker. The ultimate goal of discipline, according to Grote, is correction--not termination.

Union Negotiating

Kent Vana, Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt and Howlett, addressed the subject of collective bargaining and dealing with unions. He outlined 12 practical suggestions for successful collective bargaining.

Some advice Vana offered is to develop specific goals, objectives and a strategy to achieve them. "Saying `so the best that you can' does not identify your goals and objectives to your bargaining leaders," said Vana. "That denies the benefits of well conceived, well thought out and properly developed goals and objectives."

Another suggestion is to share company news with the local union committee, employees, the company's international representative and the international union. "Include developments, opportunities and problems," said Vana. "Regularity in communication is the key, not some occasional sensational or intimate disclosures."

When making ratifications, Vana suggested using a secret ballot ratification vote. He said this technique allows time for written explanations of the offer to be studied and decreases the possibility of "neighborly bullying" at an open ratification meeting, resulting in a truer vote. Vana said most union representatives will agree to this approach because it takes them off the hot seat at an open meeting.

Employee Benefits

John McFadden, Godwins Booke and Dickenson's, discussed a survey conducted by the firm regarding employee benefits and employee attitudes toward benefits. Medical insurance, pensions, holidays and vacations continue to be the most important benefits to workers. However, flexible benefits in which a worker can pick and choose what is important to him/her, are also popular with many workers.

Choosing an Arbitrator

Richard Schnadig, Vedder, Price, Kaufman & Kammholz. discussed preparing, presenting and prevailing at arbitration and other dispute resolutions. He emphasized the importance of arbitrator selection, saying generally that lawyers are a good choice because they have been trained to be objective and see all the evidence before making a decision.

Along with the technical presentations, attendees participated in several breakout sessions. Representatives of companies with union contracts with the Autoworkers, Steelworkers and Machinists met to discuss current attitudes and directions of their unions as they move toward a merger in the year 2000.

Those companies that have GMP contracts or operate without unions met in separate groups.
COPYRIGHT 1996 American Foundry Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Ulbert, Charles A.
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Mar 1, 1996
Words:477
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