Collective Bargaining Exercise
WER 401, Fall 2008

The Collective Bargaining Exercise for the Fall 2008 semester will be based on John Budd's Zinnia case.  All materials relating directly to that case can be found at the website:

These materials include information about the employer (a hotel in Minneapolis, Minnesota), the union, the economic environment surrounding the negotiations, financial information about the employer, a spreadsheet designed to enable you to cost out certain types of proposals, and a complete copy of the expiring collective bargaining agreement.  There are also contract proposal work sheets and private communications for both the union and management. After teams are chosen, make sure you ask the instructor for instructions on accessing the confidential areas of the web site.


1.  Teams should meet for a sufficient number of planning sessions to be ready for negotiations.

2. Each team will establish three or more specific proposals for changes in the collective bargaining agreement (nothing vague like "wage increase" or "larger health insurance contribution", but rather the specific amounts by which you propose wages to increase or the health insurance contribution to be larger).

3.  These initial proposals must be exchanged in class on November 10.   On November 14, in class, each team must provide its opponent with a letter containing its initial response to the opponent's proposals.  Also on November 14, the instructor must receive a copy of each team's initial proposals (on the Zinnia exercise contract proposal worksheet), its responses to its opponent's proposals plus a sheet detailing its target and resistance points on each of its own proposals and on each proposal it has received from the other side.  This must be in the form of a letter to higher union/management officials.  The letter must justify each target and resistance point in terms of relevant facts, data, and comparable collective bargaining agreements.  (However, deviation from your resistance points in reaching a settlement will not affect your grade).  This letter will be a very important component of the grade for the exercise.

4.  Be prepared during negotiations to defend your proposals with specific facts, precedents, examples, etc. whenever possible.  Resource materials are available in the library.  Evaluation for purposes of grading will depend, in part, on the use of specific data, comparisons and agreements both in the actual negotiations and in the statement of target and resistance points provided to the instructor.   In evaluating settlements, the wage issue will be the most heavily weighted.  Evaluation will also depend on teams following the guidelines set for them by higher officials.  Deviation from these guidelines will result in lower grades.

5.  There will be settlement of all issues by the end of the second negotiating session.  No extension will be permitted.  If any issues remain unresolved at the end of the time allotted for the second negotiating session, a strike will occur.  See below on this page for an explanation of the consequences of a strike. 

6.  Any changes in the existing agreement must be in writing and must be signed.  It is recommended that the parties draft agreed language as they proceed with their negotiations since the changes must be handed in at the end of the second negotiating session. 

7.   ALL NEGOTIATIONS ARE TO TAKE PLACE AT THE DESIGNATED TIMES AND PLACES IN THE PRESENCE OF THE INSTRUCTOR.  There are to be no other meetings between union and management personnel to discuss these issues. 

8.  Be prepared to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your contract (or your reasons for striking or taking a strike), your bargaining tactics, and the entire bargaining process on November 24.  Attendance at this class is a mandatory part of the exercise.


In addition to the materials provided at the Zinnia website, the following sources of information will be useful to you and should be consulted:

1.  Existing collective bargaining agreements.  A number will be available in the library in the weeks prior to the exercise.

2.  Any relevant information from the course readings, e.g. Articles in Clark, Delaney and Frost, (particularly the one by Waddoups and Eade on "Hotels and Casinos") appropriate chapters in Katz, Kochan and Colvin, and in a variety of other required and optional readings.

3.  M. Granof - How to Cost Your Labor Contracts, (1973)(on reserve at the library)

4.  Relevant material available through links on the course home page.  Links to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics and to "innovative contract language" are good places to begin.

5. Any other information you can find relevant to comparisons, productivity, cost-of-living, unemployment, etc.  The library has lots of such information.  You might begin by looking at the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review.


Guidelines for the Strike Paper

In case of no agreement at the end of the final bargaining session, both sides are obligated to write a paper justifying the strike.  The paper is a graded exercise.  Following are some guidelines for such a paper:

1.  For the union, the paper is to be written as if it were to be read by a skeptical national union president; for management, it is to be written as if it were to be read by a skeptical company president.

2.  Papers can be done by the group as a whole or by individuals within the group.

3.  Papers must be 7-8 (typewritten) pages (double-spaced) in length.

4.  Each side must make its case based on the final offers of both parties.

5.  Papers should demonstrate a grasp of labor-relations theory, e.g. justifying particular positions by citing relevant published material and by reference to appropriate strategies.

6.  Papers should exhibit familiarity with area, industrial, and national data which relate to your position.

7.  Papers are due at the beginning of class on December 1.  There will be no extensions on the due date for this paper and failure to submit it on time will result in the student receiving a failing grade for the exercise.