Conflict can be described as a disagreement between two or more parties while negotiation is a deliberation with an intention of reaching a consensus. Therefore, conflict negotiation can be defined as an attempt to resolve disputes between two or more parties amicably or a deliberation intended to restore peace between dissenting parties. One of the best conflict negotiation outcomes traces back to 1996 which involved the United Parcel Service (UPS) strike. The strike popularly referred to as Win-Lose negotiation has had a massive contribution to shaping the conflict negotiation processes.
United Parcel Service (UPS) is one of the largest companies that provide package delivery, logistic services, and transport services. The UPS company came up with a business strategy that brought tension within its workforce. The company opted to employ the services of part-time workers, which was profitable to UPS. However, the move had a demotivating effect on the part-time workers since they never got appraisals. The dissatisfaction of the workforce led to the launch of a major strike organized by the Teamster Union. Teamster Union undertook bargaining negotiations on behalf of the workers (Kumar, 2001). Furthermore, the association identified the injustices meted against the workforce in terms of compensation and exploitation of workers to maximize company’s profits. First and foremost, the international union sent e-mails to employees, consequently allowing them to comprehend the reasons of plotting a strike.
The union negotiators came up with a list of demands and wiles and presented them to the management. The list entailed the following: turning part-time jobs to full-time jobs, reduction of salary parity between part-time and full-time workers and job security. A heated debate ensued during the negotiation process resulted in the union to reject a concessionary offer from UPS management of sub-contracting big driver jobs rather than hiring part-time workers (Ryan, 1999). Eventually, consensus on various issues was reached to end the two-week long strike. Notably, the Teamster Union in unison with the Union of UPS have won in the negotiation, fulfilling almost all their stated demands.
Remarkably, The Teamster Union prepared adequately for the strike and enlightened the workers of the execution plan. In contrast, UPS had no preliminary plans whatsoever and were caught unawares. The approach taken by Teamster Union was an offensive one and prevailed in the end. Since UPS did not take adequate measures, they had no option but to go defensive during the conflict resolution. It is vital to note that Teamster Union maintained a standing ground or a competing stand in negotiating a better deal for the workers (Ryan, 1999). In no time the unions relented on their stand but instead rejected any substandard offers proposed by the UPS like the concession style which might have worsened the situation of workers. The competing position taken by Teamster ensured the focus on the listed demands presented to UPS.
An essential aspect of negotiation used by Teamster is communication. Communication via e-mails enlightened the workforce of their grievances and ensured that all of them had a common understanding of the cause of action. Furthermore, the Union used communication to update the striking workforce of any developments made during the strike. Voicing the concerns involved discussion as well, and this guaranteed the understanding of the cause of action by the UPS management (Kumar, 2001). Communication allows for deliberation to take place; in the ongoing case it was handy in plotting the way forward.
Conversely, UPS devoid of a counteractive measure had no option but to fulfill the demands of Teamster Union (Pruitt & Carnevale, 1993). The ceding of ground by UPS was bound to come since the company was making huge losses as a result of the standoff of its workforce. Attempts of UPS to threaten the workforce with lay offs failed miserably. Similarly, the endeavor to undermine the public interest by avoiding the part-time job discussion failed as well. Lastly, UPS tried to mobilize business pressure on the national government to intercede and resolve the quagmire (Kumar, 2001). It is an interesting case where precise mechanisms of negotiation failed while others thrived. Avoidance in this instance failed, and the company resorted to accommodate the issues brought up in the Teamster Union and obliged to their demands.
The consensus reached in the end showed the victory of the Teamster Union and loss on the part of the UPS. In the entire process, the negotiators were very open in their stand, and the agendas for deliberation made available which played a significant role in the resolution of the long strike (Shell, 2001). There was evident openness in the way Teamster conveyed their concerns and the expected resistance of UPS to heed to the listed demands. Primarily, the openness of the dissenting parties led to a speedy resolution of the dispute. All along the dissenting parties had a joint endeavor at heart. The UPS wanted a quick resolution to continue running its business operations, while Teamster would have liked the workers to resume duties, but with better terms. The common ground in this case is resumption of work that would allow UPS to continue making profits while better conditions for the workforce upon resumption would be a welcome relief. The mutual purpose was the ultimate desire of the parties concerned that in a sense created a shared objective in the entire deliberation exercise (Browne, 2007). Eventually, UPS yielded to the demands of the workers and calmness restored thereafter. Thus, it is advisable to commence conflict negotiation with identifying the mutual purpose and then drawing a clear plan of execution.
The resolution, which was more of a victory to Teamster, brought improved terms to the workforce. Similarly, more full-time jobs were created, and there were introduced increments in wages, enhanced job security, better work environment among other gains. As a result of the strike and better negotiation on the part of Teamster, a safe work atmosphere ensued to the delight of the workforce (Ryan, 1999). The resultant environment was conducive to work and better equipment for carrying out duties was accorded to part-timers. Notably, exploitation was erased, and the duration of work specified which was a remarkable improvement compared to the initially hostile work atmosphere where part-timers underwent exploitation in terms of paying and workload.
In the ongoing discussion, it is important to note that initially the UPS company negotiators were very unwilling to accord audience to Teamster grievances. The avoidance vibrantly meant that they did not make an attempt to comprehend the issues raised. The reluctance culminated to strike since that was the only way of attracting the UPS management’s attention. Subsequently, negotiation started with a motive of finding a lasting solution. The mastery of the raised issues portrayed by the Teamster Union carried the day. Ultimately, the differences were ironed out via consensus between the two parties to their relief. It is imperative to note that negotiation is a process and not a one-time dosage (Browne, 2007). Likewise, fruitful deliberations entail adequate preparations and specification of issues (Mitchell, 1990). Talk in this case testifies to the fact that mastering the subjects of discussion and unity of the workforce is a supreme strength. Otherwise, one might as well be perceived as a troublemaker if they come to the discussion platform without stated facts to back up their allegations.
Conspicuously, conflict resolution theories came in handy in the negotiation process. Essentially, deterrence theory was used by the Teamster Union to carry the day. They exuded confidence in striking because they knew that UPS could not make profits without their input. They were also aware of the fact that the company could not replace the 185,000 striking workforce and that the business could not sustain the 60 million dollars weekly losses. Similarly, being informed that workers had the capacity to turn production on and off was ideal for deterrence (Shell, 2001). Therefore, deterrence was an integral contribution to overall victory. Another critical theory visible in the case is bargaining theory. The mentioned method was important for the ultimate success as Teamster negotiated for better terms of service to the entire workforce and achieved prosperous gains. One consequence of bargaining theory is that 10,000 part-time contracts were transformed to full-time occupations among others. The other theory observable in the ongoing case is human needs theory which has it that deep-rooted social disputes spiral from unsatisfied basic needs (Mitchell, 19990). The human needs theory is observable in the hierarchical prioritization of human needs that is visible in the ranking of requirements of Teamster Union. The theory was critical in qualifying pertinent issues for negotiation. Evidently, the terms of healthcare provision were improved, and job security was enhanced. The methods of conflict negotiation significantly increased the chances of a victorious outcome. The result portrays a more representative face of workforce concerns.The new terms will ensure justice for all and this will always prevail at the UPS. The achievements were courtesy of the reviewed policies.
In the end, improvement in human resource department was evident in the way that it formulated better terms to the employees of UPS. The human resource department also improved the work environment and wages as well (Kumar, 2001). Transport department acquired new high powered fleet of cars which were easy to operate. The welfare department of the workers became even better, with job security enhancement and expansion of leave days. Additionally, maternity and paternity leave days were introduced in the policies. Fairer disciplinary measures and better terms significantly reduced exploitation that was a rampant phenomenon before the strike (Kumar, 2001). The strike denoted as a Win-Lose strike since Teamster had all its demands fulfilled while UPS lost in all of its stands. In a sense, the outcome is an encouragement to other labor unions to take an offensive approach to negotiating better terms for the member workers.
The success of Teamster’s negotiation was organized, and various aspects of feedback instruments encompassed. The union came up with a valid cause of action which was imperative in the quest. The definition of issues and their accurate articulation by Teamster Union made progress to go on smoothly (Pruitt & Carnevale, 1993). Reliable communication was crucial to the negotiation and the consensus. Documentation of terms provides a guideline for future reference helping in monitoring process (Shell, 2001). Avenues for feedback via e-mails were evident in the entire deliberation process, and this was important for enhancing the reliability of the information. Acknowledgment by both the UPS negotiators and the Teamster negotiators of the need to dialog was a feedback mechanism in the ensuing deliberation.
In a nutshell, the victory of Teamster transformed the culture of impunity existing in various organizations. It also encouraged unorganized workers to get themselves in order and voice their concerns. It is a progressive step to the sustainability of the labor movement which has earned an excellent reputation. Moreover, the result shaped up UPS and accentuated the dire need for organizing unity of workers. One vital lesson to learn is that the negotiation is essential in resolving any dispute regardless of the magnitude of damage. An important point in the negotiation is first finding a common ground between the dissenting parties.