A Labor Negotiation Case Useful in an Introductory Business Course


Effective labor management is critical to the success of an entity. Business students need basic knowledge and skills concerning the creation of a labor agreement. This paper discusses the labor negotiation process as well as a labor negotiation case used in the introductory siness course at a U.S. university. The case involves student representatives of management and labor negotiating an agreement on wages, vacation time, the retirement plan, life insurance, and job security. The paper provides a thorough discussion of the labor negotiation case, an explanation of how the instructor involves the students in the case, statistical measures of the student learning and skill development from using the case, and teaching suggestions for instructors.

Management is required by law to negotiate certain mandatory bargaining issues. The case discussed in this paper includes five of the most important mandatory bargaining issues: wages, paid vacations, the pension plan, group life insurance, and job security/layoffs. The case presents a realistic labor-negotiating situation and requires students to be actively involved in creating a new labor agreement. As such, the case provides an effective tool to meet the primary teaching objectives of providing students with a thorough understanding of the challenges involved in creating a new labor contract, to help students effectively understand the perspectives of both employees and of management in the labor negotiating process, and to assist students in developing vital critical thinking, communication, and negotiating skills. Statistical tests reveal that using the case significantly increases students' understanding of labor negotiation issues and concepts and provides students with significantly improved critical thinking skills and analytical skills.

It is suggested that the instructor encourage the students to be creative in negotiating the bargaining issues in order to stimulate their analytical and innovative thinking processes. The overall objective of each of these issues is to require students to provide fairly in-depth analysis and input to resolve each of them; that students will learn that reaching an agreement on wages, vacations, the retirement plan, life insurance, and job security/layoffs requires considerable effort and skill. Thus, the complexities involved in these issues are designed to result in significant improvement in students' analytical and negotiating abilities.



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Academy of Educational Leadership Journal