The IAM High Performance Work Organization Partnerships process works to build and strengthen both the IAM and the companies where our members work. Labor and management representatives use ten key components to guide the creation of their partnership. The understanding and fulfillment of these components, over time, will create a strong foundation. Then the partners can achieve their goal of implementing a new work system to save and create jobs, and grow businesses.
Both labor and management must be committed to partnering to create a real change in the workplace culture. In the past management driven change efforts did not have the commitment from labor, and consequently were not fully successful.
In an HPWO Partnership the partners define a new work system which draws on the insights and talents of all employees and describes how they will play new roles at the workplace. The union and the employer draft a Partnership Agreement, which is signed by those individuals with the highest level of responsibility within the firm and the union. The following nine components define what constitutes a full partnership.
In a traditional work system, management defines the problem and the solution, and then implements that solution.
In a partnership, labor and management jointly identify the vital issues of their particular workplace. Then, by engaging in shared decision making, they jointly create solutions. Joint design, joint decision making, and joint implementation of new work systems is at the heart of a partnership.
The IAM strongly believes that we must engage in life long learning, both on the job and in the class room, to continually upgrade and expand skills. The partners jointly develop and deliver educational programs that enhance and build on the skills of all employees, ensuring their ability to actively participate as equal partners. This is important because in a partnership people take on new roles and responsibilities, and they need the education to fulfill these new roles.
In the global marketplace change is the only constant. The partners have to create internal flexibility to deal with new technologies, and to provide new products and services that meet their customers’ needs. Education is key to developing flexibility.
In the past technology was seen as a “silver bullet” to improve productivity. Real improvements in productivity and quality come from the ideas of people. Technology is a tool that helps us do our jobs better and create opportunities for growth.
Technology includes equipment, new materials, work processes and labor relations–introduced and integrated to stabilize and grow both the business and the work force. Technology becomes part of a strategy to save and create jobs not a method of eliminating them.
Quality is critical to survivable in the global market place and is clearly a labor issue. Our jobs depend upon providing quality products and services. Labor and management must jointly define the meaning of quality, the customers’ expectations, and develop a strategy to meet or exceed those expectations.
In traditional work systems little information is shared. If the partners are going to engage in share decision making then they must have the information to make good decisions. Sharing information is also part of the process of developing trust where trust may not exist.
Traditional cost accounting methods lump costs together and give us flawed information with which to make critical decisions about out workplaces. We need to have an activity based costing system that takes the costs of all of the activities-both direct and indirect-that go into producing a product or service and assigns them to a particular product. Only then will we begin to have accurate costing information to make decisions on such issues as work process improvement, subcontracting, and the cost of a product or service.
Labor relations are both cooperative and adversarial. While an HPWO Partnership expands cooperation between labor and management, there will always be some differences.
A collective bargaining agreement provides mechanisms to resolve those differences-a grievance procedure for problems on the shop floor, and a collective bargaining process to equitably share the benefits of the partnership.
In time, as the partnership develops, the collective bargaining agreement may change, in the normal course of negotiations, to reflect the maturity of the new relationship.
Labor and management leaders advocate and motivate all employees to raise skill levels and knowledge of the process, thereby equipping those closest to production and/or service delivery to initiate and accomplish positive workplace change.
While both the labor and management have to provide leadership to encourage participation, it is also necessary to include the “natural leaders” in the non-supervisory salary group and the shop floor, who do not necessarily hold union office, to also provide leadership.
In the past, so called “quality programs” were only focused on improving productivity. There was never a plan for growth and often employees lost their jobs as a result of their participation.
The IAM strongly believes the partners must jointly develop a plan to chart the future of the business, that examines current products and services, develops new products and services, and sets forth the goals and direction the partners will take to achieve future growth.