Mutual Gains Bargaining

Length: 28 Pages 7100 Words

In today’s highly adversarial unionized workplace, both union and management negotiators involved in collective bargaining are constantly trying to find better ways to improve efficiency and relationships at the bargaining table. For years unions and management have fought against each other’s positions, not taking into consideration the relationships between the two. In the traditional bargaining approach, the two parties exchange proposals in order to obtain target positions. There are several reasons this approach is not always the best approach, which I will explain in detail later in this paper. The traditional collective bargaining process is described as being “based on mistrust and conflict – that is, there is a fundamental divergence of interest between employers and employees” (Pettinger, 2000, pp 59). In traditional bargaining, the two sides act as adversaries, causing the two sides to lose trust in each other. When this happens negotiations often break down resulting in impasses. When an impasse is reached, the union can strike or management can lockout causing workers valuable working time and companies to lose valuable production time. To help avoid impasses, a more allied approach to negotiating ha Continue...


The third and final step of the prenegotiation phase is to probe and explicate the interests of the two parties. Mutual Gains Bargaining (MGB) originated in Japanese industrial relations where both sides of the bargaining table approached the negotiations by working toward a common goal through cooperation between the two sides (Abbey, 1996, pp 21). When used properly, MGB has been an extremely successful tool for both union and management. The third section of this paper will give an overview of the actual process of MGB and give examples of processes that have been used in actual cases of MGB. The first benefit that can be achieved through the correct usage of MGB is an improved relationship between the union and management. To better help understand these possible benefits and problems with MGB, numbers from actual MGB cases will be presented next. If this is happening, trust between the two sides will further deteriorate and MGB will never be used by the two sides in the future. The first benefit MGB brought to Ramsey County was the reduction of grievances. Figure 1 below shows the basic concept of MGB:Figure 1 Mutual Gains Benefit - The Concept This model is adapted from Rosenthal Burton"tms, Mutual Gains: A Guide to Union-Management Cooperation. The next phase in the MGB process is the actual negotiations between the two parties. The negotiators had to revert to the traditional bargaining method but because MGB had been used for all of the other issues, trust had been built between the two sides and traditional bargaining was much more efficient. The outcome at SRP was overwhelmingly positive. What is good for one individual may not be the best option for all of the union members.