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Bargaining Techniques

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Labor Relations

  • Format: Self-paced
  • Course Duration: 1 hr 42 mins
  • SHRM Professional Development Credits: 1.50
  • HRCI General Recertification Credits: 1.75
  • Certificate of Completion (after passing quiz)

The day has come…union officials are now able to represent your employees. The workforce voted to unionize! Now what? Taking on the task of developing and maintaining a collective bargaining agreement is nothing to fear! This course is for HR professionals who need to understand the basics of a collective bargaining agreement process and its enforcement in the United States. The lessons will provide an introduction to the world of U.S. labor relations including a review of specific terms and labor law. Labor relations is a fun topic but it could be a little scary for those who are new to it. Take this course and put your mind at ease.

HR Jetpack is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. This program is valid for 1.50 PDCs for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. For more information about certification or recertification, please visit

This activity, has been approved for 1.75 HR (General) recertification credit hours toward aPHR™, PHR®, PHRca®, SPHR®, GPHR®, PHRi™ and SPHRi™ recertification through HR Certification Institute® (HRCI®). For more information about certification or recertification, please visit the HR Certification Institute website at
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Title: Bargaining Techniques
Module: Negotiating an Agreement
Duration: 4:22

There are four bargaining techniques and I utilize two of them.

Number 1, distributive bargaining. This is viewed as a win/loss. Each team strives to maximize the benefits. Both parties keep their cards hidden. They negotiate and hopefully someone will win and someone will eventually lose. It is very hard for both parties to win when they aren’t sharing information. For example, the union makes a proposal for wages like a 5% increase and management proposes a 1% increase. Neither side knows where the other will settle. Hopefully middle ground is found and maybe the parties come up with 3%. This is an old school bargaining technique in which one side loses and the other side wins. It is not the proper way to negotiate.

Number 2, pressure bargaining. This happens when one side tries to make the other concede. It's the ultimate test of strength. The storytelling goes on and on. Management may say they can no longer provide certain benefits or pay into health and welfare at the same rate. They are pressuring the union to let go of their stance and give in. It happens often. Time is on management’s side. If the contract is going to expire at 11:59 p.m., the real pressure negotiation happens.

Around ten o'clock if the parties don’t come up with an agreement, the union can strike and management can put in place a lockout. Management needs the union to concede. It puts a lot of pressure on them. It’s also a win/lose technique. It is effective but it's a win lose.

Number 3, the Integrated Negotiation Process. I consider it a new school technique in which several issues are negotiated in an open dialogue across the table. This is viewed as a win win. Both sides have discussions and offer their proposals openly seeking middle ground on the easy items. It shows movement by dropping things that are not truly important and getting to the bigger issues. Through storytelling management explains why they can't have health insurance the way it is right now or that if it continues, they need to increase wages. They’ll mention the problem competing and having to charge the company more. The union will also talk about their issues. There might be 50 proposals in total. Management will identify 5 major items and the union will do the same. Then the parties will see if there are any common ground. They’ll probably use the time figuring out how to move money around for resolving some of these issues. With the parties working together, it is viewed as a win-win. Both sides have to give a little bit but they do move forward.

Number 4, Principled negotiations. Using this technique, you are separating the people from the problem. Attack the problem. Here's a good example. Health insurance insurance has been going up double digits in the last few years. It’s a big issue when it comes to negotiations. Talking about healthcare in general and how to contain costs is focusing on the problem. Keep people out of it.

Another way of separating the people from the problem is by going to mediation by bringing in a third party to help resolve the problem.

Integrated negotiations and principled negotiations are the true ways to try to negotiate with both parties.

However, it only works if you develop a relationship with the union and the union develops a relationship with management. There are some historical battles between management and union called the “remember hurt” and there’s trust issues. It’s very hard to do the integrated and principled negotiations when there are trust issues because they were hurt in the past. It is so important to get to know the other party. Understand before you can be understood. This is where you build relationships especially if there's a breakdown in communication. You need to build the trust back up.


Instructor: Matthew Kerzner

As an accomplished professional with over 20 plus years of practice in all facets of organizational operations, Matthew’s expertise includes training and development, labor relations, and organizational development, in addition to the recruitment and selection of competent human capital.

Matthew graduated from Nichols College, with a BA in Industrial Organizational Psychology; and also obtained both an...

Matthew's Full Bio

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HR Jetpack® is an official SHRM Education Partner recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP.

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