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Negotiation is a process of entering into dialogues which are intended (i) to resolve disputes, (ii) to produce an agreement upon courses of action, (iii) to bargain for individual or collective advantage, or (iv) to craft outcomes to satisfy various interests. The essence of negotiation in this case therefore is to bargain for individual or collective advantage. We, the Teachers’ Association appeared before the Board of Education for a negotiation on workload and benefits and this write-up presents the salient points discussed and finalized during the negotiation process.
Workload section is usually a less important area that our association would care to negotiate. Therefore we agreed for the proposal of 51 layoffs at Day 1 on the hope of getting a better deal in other terms of negotiation. It was our thinking that normally teachers will be required to work extra hours so that they can take better care of students as it was expected of us. Therefore, it is thought reasonable to accept their proposal of increasing 55 minutes of working per day. Similarly we accepted their offer of reduction in “prep” time so that teachers will be able to adjust their own time efficiently.
Thus we can say that the negotiation process for issues relating to workload went on very well without any hard arguments or hesitation on either side. Although we were made to give up on some points, the Board of Education was ready to accept our offers on duty-free time and emergency assignments by Board. Our strategy in this section was to align our interests with those of the Board so that we both could figure out the best ways to achieve best results. We understood their true interest in changing the teacher/student ratio from 32:1 to 37:1 so that they could solve their primary problem. During the negotiation in this area, both the Teachers’ Association and the Board of Education were very much willing to work together. It was not the case that the other party in the process of integrating the strategies expected big and very important concessions from our side.
As compared to the workload section, the negotiation process for the benefits section was tougher. In fact it was necessary to have two short breaks during the negotiation to clear the air as there were heated arguments and discussions. The Teachers’ Association was looking for good results out of this negotiation to make teachers feel better and to bring more actual calculated cost benefits to the teachers for their hard work. We also knew that the concession from our side will pay off the deficits from the side of the Board of Education. The Board even though tried to solve their main problem, was not willing to accept our proposals without arguments. They presented their arguments and points very strongly.
Therefore we had to adopt an assertive strategy to strongly present our proposals. We stood our ground and presented our standpoints more strongly and at no point of time we were willing to accept their offer. Although, it took more than 30 minutes for reaching an agreement, finally they accepted all of our proposals except the offer on childbirth leave. To reach an agreement on the childbirth leave, the Board of education had to reveal their bottom line with cost calculation. On the basis of the exact data of the costs required to fulfill the childbirth leave benefit, both the sides could find an agreeable point. In the whole negotiation process the Teachers’ Association showed the Board the precise interests of our side with an assertive strategy and the Board of Education extended their cooperation with their honesty.