SEIU has voted to accept the 2007-2010 contract in Kern County. The whole process is a first for me as shop steward and I found the politics on both sides interesting. Why is the whole process so acrimonious?

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Short answer - labor history of this country, where even the government has enforced management's dictatorial desires.

Longer answer - both sides come to the table with respective ideas about what they ideally want, what they hope to settle for, and their bottom line. Too often, it seems to me, there are hidden agenda of anger and/or mistrust that influence the conversations at the table. These get in the way of reasonable negotiation.

Something we tried this last negotiation period was Interest Based Bargaining (IBB) where, under the facilitation of a mediator from PERC, the teams set forth issues they wished to resolve and then set forth solutions, discussing them until resolution. We had hoped that this would carry forth in the administration of the contract, but to our dismay management dropped back into the old us-vs-them mentality.

We recently settled a grievance where they will pay of IBB training once more - the focus will be upon administration of the contract.

BTW - congrats! Hopefully your members are satisfied. (This is your first contract, right?)
Sorry to be so long in replying, I have a good excuse though I broke my wrist in 3 places and was out of commission for a while. Still typing with one hand though.

No, most of the members were not satisfied with the contract but we voted for it anyway with the idea that this is the first step, not that it is a good contract.

If only IBB would work here, as in your situation our Board of Supervisors reverted to form and the neogtiations devolved into angry exchanges and chain-jerking. It was my first contract experience and a first for the newly consolidated Local 521. The previous Union administrators are still under investigation for fiscal mismanagement. We have 4 years to work on the next contract and several Board seats are up for election next year so we will see.
I know all too well about broken wrists - about 8 years ago my wife was closing a screen in our kitchen window and the inner heavywood framed glass came down pinning both wrists between that frame and the window frame itself! She is a lab tech by training, a computer analyst/consultant by self-study, and a teddy bear artist. It took her a couple of months to regain full strength use of her wrists.

It is fascinating that our administration has come back to us with a proposal that we again be trained in IBB so that we can better utilize it in the workplace. Our director still wants ultimate control - even so, we did agree to the training, again with the same facilitator as handled our negotiations last time.

Thankfully, our health benefits premiums will increase only 4.1% nearly five percent below the threshhold for re-opening the contract.

The board member most instrumental in the relatively pleasant negotiations last time resigned because of other pressures in her life - this means that we are actively recruiting persons we percieve will be beneficial to our cause. These persons must applyto the County Executive for consideration as his appointee to fill this slot. Of course the Admin is doing likewise. So we too shall see.

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