People concerns need managing.
1993 AFS Labor Relations & Human Resources Conference
"Concentrate on the windshield, not the rear view mirror," was the advice given by attorney Kent Vana to 101 attendees at the 24th Annual AFS Labor Relations and Human Resource Conference held January 20-22 in Pompano Beach, Florida.
Vana stressed the need to focus on the future rather than the past, quoting hockey great Wayne Gretzky's philosophy: "I don't go where the puck is, I go where the puck is going to be."
Vana, an attorney with the Grand Rapids, Michigan, law firm of Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt & Howlett, was referring to the fact that collective bargaining may be failing the needs of U.S. business and labor because of broad changes occurring in the industrial relations field. Many changes affect established negotiating policies and practices, yet are often missed by unions and management.
He traced the history of recent negotiations at Caterpillar, showing how a new management philosophy, misunderstood by the union, resulted in a bargaining impasse. Management, Vana said, adopted the negotiating principle that employees--not unions--are the answer to successful bargaining. He offered the following actions to keep the bargaining process viable:
* establish a company vision and mission because current wages and benefits won't be survival issues in the 21st century;
* make bargaining an ongoing process, not a periodic exercise;
* make management the trusted source of facts for workers;
* pursue constituent group bargaining;
* devise a team pact contract (a compact) as a bargaining guide.
Walter Lambeth, Jr., an attorney with Elarbee, Thompson & Trapnell, Atlanta, Georgia, discussed the impact of recent legislation, court decisions and negotiating trends on managing personnel policies. He noted the benefits and drawbacks of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 as it relates to a union-free labor force. He said an employer may lawfully encourage and campaign for union decertification, but urged guidance to avoid legal pitfalls in the National Labor Relations Board decertification procedures.
Rebecca Shafer of Marsh & Mclennan, Hartford, Connecticut, encouraged managers to take charge of workers' compensation claims or risk having injured employees assume control. She identified 11 steps that assure successful claims management:
* properly identified problem areas;
* strong management commitment;
* prepared claim data analyses;
* managed post-injury response;
* managed return-to-work control;
* prompt claims investigations;
* screening and placing returned employees;
* careful selection of medical providers;
* established and managed medical policy;
* established medical cost containment services;
* file of audits and account instructions.
Gregg Miller, University of Wisconsin-Madison, discussed the problem of dealing with troubled employees. He advocated the use of a good employee assistance program (EAP), but emphasized that it must be an adjunct to, and not replace, sound personnel management procedures. He said an EAP must deal with all personal problems--not just drug and alcohol problems. It should also include financial, marital and social programs.
He cited the discharge of a woman for being drunk on the job who was actually an undiagnosed diabetic. She eventually won reinstatement and a substantial settlement from the employer. Miller said an effective EAP can help avoid this kind of loss.
The need to develop a drug-free workplace policy and a how-to approach to drug and alcohol testing were explored by Annette Maddox-Miller, St. Clare Hospital, Baraboo, Wisconsin. She addressed some of the issues confronting employers concerning drug and alcohol abuse in light of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Dave Jones, HR Strategies, Grosse Pointe, Michigan, said the "can do" and "will do" qualities of job applicants can be revealed by using custom tests and interactive videos developed at a relatively low cost. His rationale for incurring costs to hire better people was based on studies showing that while training raises individual productivity, individuals who start with a low skill level rarely rise as high as a worker entering at a higher starting level.
Concurrent sessions were held with nonunion companies and those with United Auto Workers, United Steel Workers and Glass Molders Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers contracts. A panel of Rick Babcock of G&C Foundry, Sandusky, Ohio; Russ Bodge of Atlas Foundry, Tacoma, Washington; and Jim Brown of Bremen Castings, Bremen, Indiana; discussed recent experiences of being unable to negotiate labor agreements, suffering through a union strike and continuing operations with permanent replacements.
Conference proceedings, which include a copy of the book, Successful Employment Practices, by J. D. Thorne, an attorney specializing in labor-management issues, are available from AFS. Call 708/824-0181 or 800/537-4237 for details.
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|Date:||Mar 1, 1993|
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