25 February 2011

Hardball Negotiating

Prank phone-calling aside: the unions engaged in this high-profile confrontation with Governor Walker have agreed to the financial concessions involved. According to their offer now on the table, if I understand it, the union members will begin contributing 5.8% of their salaries toward their pensions (versus what the WSJ imprecisely calls "little or nothing" until now).

Also, members will begin paying a minimum of 12.6% of the health care premiums, up from the current average of 6%. Note that wording carefully, for the increase is greater than the numbers alone make it seem -- that is a current "average" on the one hand matched against a minimum on the other.

If Governor Walker's hardball politics, his existential threat to the unions themselves, has been necessary to get that concession, then it has served its purpose. If so, maybe he should withdraw the existential threat and lock in the concession. Then he may go down in the history as the Governor who ensured the solvency of that pension and health-care system.

As this intelligent commentary explains, the bill of which this is a part would "restructure the state's pension model to a more sustainable system."

Fromn that POV, this isn't all that new a development. Its old-fashioned hardball negotiating. Demand ten of something if you want 5. The demand for ten makes sense not on its face but because if you had only demanded 5, the other side would have thought you only really wanted 2.5.

If Walker backs off from his ten and accepts his 5 graciously in the next few days: good for him.

Here's a link to an intriguing book on labor negotiations as dramatic performances.

No comments:

Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.