Tips for Building
Here are some suggestions from college
leaders for more productive dealings with
• Be honest with union reps, and aim for
• Include input from as many members
of the faculty and staff as possible when
planning discussions with union leaders
to resolve issues.
• Create a comfortable climate so
participants from both sides feel free
to share ideas and opinions about the
issues at hand.
• Listen to what people on the union
side are saying, and don’t devalue
• Make sure teams on both sides are
working with the same, accurate
numbers or facts (for example,
average salary figures) and that the
information is presented in proper
context and perspective.
“The key to successful labor relations
is mutual respect,” says Carl Friedlander,
president of the California Federation
of Teachers Community College Coun-
cil. “Also, districts that respect their
employee unions need to be completely
transparent about their finances.”
Whether a college negotiates directly
with unions or employs union workers
by way of a statewide contract or other
means, healthy relationships are essen-
tial to amicable negotiations.
Bunker Hill Community College
(BHCC) in Boston, along with 14 other
community colleges in Massachusetts,
has a statewide contract with a union
that represents all full-time faculty,
adjunct faculty, and nonadministrative professional staff. The college
therefore does not directly negotiate
with the union, explains Mary Fifield,
BHCC’s president. Still, there is a provision within the contract that calls for
monthly meetings between union leadership and college leadership to discuss
issues that need to be worked out.
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