How deals get done

Written by Laura Pratt

Thank your lucky stars. After eight months of bargaining, Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers came to two tentative agreements that were likely to avoid a postal strike in 2003. The negotiations also produced great insights into winning at the bargaining table:

Think long term. Lynn Bue, first national VP and chief negotiator for CUPW, says the union couldn’t ignore Canada Post’s soaring benefits costs, which have grown by more than $270 million since 2000. Forcing big wage increases now could cripple both sides down the road.

Wear the other side’s shoes. CUPW’s research revealed that post offices around the world are outsourcing more to private couriers, sacrificing post-office jobs in the process. “We realized the corporation is interested in this,” says Bue, “so we’re going to work with them [on the issue].”

Sell the benefits. One stumbling block in the postal negotiations, says Bue, was Canada Post’s reluctance to include non-unionized rural-route carriers in its wage and benefits considerations. CUPW successfully argued that trouble on the rural-route front could cause Canada Post to lose lucrative rural parcel-delivery business to private couriers.

Be persistent. The union was successful, Bue believes, partly because it convinced Canada Post that failed negotiations would be followed by a push for a parliamentary resolution. “If the employer thought we were just putting it on the table lightly, they would put it aside.”

© 2003 Laura Pratt

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com