August 1st, 2014
Labor-management committees can be a critical part of the union’s strategy for representing the members. They can be an additional arena for union activity and a mechanism for representing members’ interests as new issues arise. They can help officers keep in touch with members around critical issues.
On the downside, L-M committees can also be a way for management to appear to listen without actually doing anything and to tie up issues in endless “investigation and discussion.”
The key to using L-M committees is a “continuous bargaining” approach. The union should approach every meeting of the committee with the same mindset and habits that it would bring to contract bargaining, never forgetting that management’s goals and the union’s are distinct.
Committee members should act as a group rather than as individuals, and keep the members’ needs—not supposed mutual needs—in mind at all times.