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Interest-Based Bargaining: A Creative Approach to Collective Bargaining

Traditional collective bargaining often begins with each side bringing their already-established positions to the table. Interest-Based Bargaining is a creative alternative that allows for a much less adversarial process. And it has proven to be very effective and efficient.

In this three-minute video made in the middle of a negotiation, Craig explains the basic steps in Interest-Based Bargaining.

This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody. Hey, it’s Craig Freshley here. I am right in the middle of a management/union collective bargaining negotiation. Literally. Down this hall, management leaders are meeting in one room, union leaders are meeting in another room, and in a few minutes I’m going to bring them together. But here’s the thing: We are doing this collective bargaining following a method called interest-based bargaining.

Rather than each party establish their positions, bring them to the table, and then argue about which positions should prevail, with interest-based bargaining each party first identifies the issues that they would like to discuss. That’s what they’re doing right now; things about the contract that they think could be improved.

We then come together and blend the issues into a single list that the group as a whole — representatives from both union and management — owns. We all own the whole list of issues.

And then we work through them one at a time. With each issue we try to define the problem and then we share our interests. Each side gets to say what about this issue is so important. We haven’t started talking about solutions yet! We begin with interests.

After each side has expressed their interests, then we do shared problem-solving. As a group we try to come up with a solution that will match and meet all of our interests. We do that one issue at a time, right through the list. As we go we keep track of our solutions in writing on the wall. We then incorporate those solutions into a new version of the contract.

And I’m here to tell you that it works pretty well. I’m very excited to continue with the process right down the hall.

Thanks for letting me tell you about interest-based bargaining. I hope this approach helps you make good group decisions.

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