Campus: CSU Fullerton -- April 30, 2003
Business Students Learn Art of Negotiation in
Labor Management Exercise
Students in two Cal State Fullerton labor management relations courses
have put aside their textbooks and rolled up their sleeves as they network
with working professionals, conduct research and analyze information.
Next month, they will put their preparation ³on the table²
when they face off in a bargaining simulation representing either labor
Working in teams, the 70 students will attempt to negotiate agreements
involving health insurance and other benefits, profit sharing, salaries
and overtime. Like the real world, they will struggle with plant closings,
outsourcing of jobs and whether the company is making or losing money.
³To really learn negotiating, lectures and talking about it only
go so far,² says Mei L. Bickner, professor of management and a
labor and employment arbitrator since 1980. ³That¹s why I
offer this simulation. There is no better way for students to get a
real feel for what it takes to negotiate agreements.²
During a three-week period, the students pore over the simulation premise
Bickner has provided. They will analyze strengths, advantages and weaknesses
of the employer and the union, as well as the merits and limitations
of the expiring collective bargaining agreement. With the simulation
outline in hand, they are now in the midst of choosing issues, ranging
from salaries, pensions and sick leave to seniority, management rights
and grievance/arbitration procedures.
The students also are consulting with federal mediators, employee relations
directors and representatives of several unions who have volunteered
to help out by providing advice on substance and strategy.
Among those resource professionals is CSUF alumna Kim Cano (B.A. business
administration - management ¹01), an employee/union relations consultant
with Boeing Satellite Systems Inc. ³I remember when I was in the
class, we just waned to settle,² she says. ³But when you invest
in the process, you really start to believe in what you¹re fighting
³This is really an excellent process,² says Andy Shelby, manager
of human resources operations at Boeing Satellite Systems in Los Angeles.
³ The preparation, the negotiations and outcomes ‹ all are
fairly close to the real process.
³The students are very bright and really do their homework,²
Shelby adds. ³The more preparation they do, the better they are
at negotiations. They really learn a lot.²
Raymond G. Huffer, division chair of the Transportation Communications
International Union, Lodge 1315 in Anaheim, agrees. ³You see the
same personalities and techniques that you would see in real negotiations.
I enjoy seeing the students going through the simulation and admire
³It¹s a tough class,² says Bickner. ³There¹s
lots of preparation and no shortcuts. They meet across the table and
have to use all their skills, book learning and gut feelings to work
out an agreement.²
On May 10, the students will face their counterparts and begin the negotiations
under the eyes of observers. After five hours, the teams must come to
an agreement or declare an impasse.
³If they reach an impasse, they have to write a 75-page paper to
ensure that they understand the costs of not reaching an agreement,²
adds the professor, who has provided arbitration training for the American
Arbitration Association and staged negotiation simulations at a number
At the end of the simulation exercise, the student teams prepare a folder
outlining the preparation they underwent ‹ analysis, negotiation
priorities, the proposals that they exchange a week before the actual
negotiation, a follow-up audit and minutes from team meetings.
³They complain the whole time about the amount of preparation they
need to do but they feel good when they have accomplished the task,²
said Bickner. ³These students will never forget this class or the
lessons they receive.²
Media Contacts: Mei L. Bickner, professor of management, at (714) 278-3828
Pamela McLaren of Public Affairs, at (714) 278-4852 or firstname.lastname@example.org