Managing with unions
Question: Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin continues to demand an end to collective bargaining rights for state employees even after winning their agreement on the benefit reductions he sought. These are the same state employees he must rely on to operate state government and implement his policies. How should he strike the balance between the urgent need to restore the state's fiscal health and his longer-term challenge of leading a large governmental enterprise?
Workers join unions to gain protection from arbitrary authority and to gain fair pay and voice at work. Unions give workers power and dignity, but they also want their organizations to succeed. They will support leaders who collaborate with managers who respect the union's role. Recent examples of collaboration have strengthened GM's competitiveness and improved test scores in school districts in Connecticut, Maryland, California and elsewhere.
But collaboration requires competent and collaborative leaders on both sides. When managers give unions higher wages and benefits than a company or government agency can afford, productivity suffers or government becomes soaked in red ink. When managers try to crush unions, their leaders fight back, damaging relationships and organizational effectiveness. Where unions exist in business and government, leaders should be working together to make their organizations more productive and fiscally sound.
Posted by: robert17 | March 4, 2011 5:59 PM
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