You need a lot of nickels to start negotiations

Imagine you’re sitting at a table with a stack of 50 $50 bills in front of you.

Across the table sits a man with a stack of 50 nickels.

“OK, let’s cut to the chase here,” the man says. “You cut your stack down to five, I’ll cut my stack down to five, then we’ll trade and call it even.”

You, of course, aren’t buying this argument. You tell him if he wants five of your $50 bills, he’ll have to give you 5,000 nickels. The man fusses and fumes, telling you that you’re completely unreasonable.

This is what contract negotiations are like. Former General Manager Bob Wilson used to push Guild bargainers to come quickly down to their “short list,” the top priorities, so that the Company could then swap with the top priorities on its list. The problem, of course, is that the Guild’s list would include items like a bump in the night differential or a modest increase in the pension contribution. The Company’s short list would include things like eliminating your right to consent to getting your days off changed or allowing you to be displaced and an independent contractor to get your job (and, in advertising, commissions.)

Keep this in mind as you look at our initial proposal. You’ll probably notice that it’s full of nickels. Some of them are items we are quite serious about obtaining this year, some are things we’d like to get sometime and some are there in case the Company demands we hand over a stack of $50’s. How swiftly we whittle down our pile will depend not on how many items are on the Company’s agenda, but the value of what they want. The less they demand, the sooner we can get a fair contract.

Leave a Reply