Verizon, unions: Novel approach to labor relations

Interesting comment on the end of the Verizon strike from Karen Boroff, Ph.D., a management professor and former dean of the Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall University. (What follows are her words).

Verizon and its unions, the CWA and the IBEW, have agreed to end the work stoppage, with employees returning to work without a new contract.  The parties have announced that they have structured a way to continue to bargain about some of the difficult issues, while employees will continue to be paid under the labor agreements that had expired. 

Karen Boroff

(You can read my Inquirer story about the strikers returning to work by clicking here.)

This is a novel arrangement, especially since Verizon had alleged worker sabotage during the strike.  It is unusual that, amidst the tension that typically accompanies a strike, any employer would give access to employees back to the workplace, and especially if there were already concerns about alleged destruction of company property. 

At the same time, it is unusual to see a union, whose major weapon in a strike is withholding the labor of its members,  then agree to have its members return to work with no discernable return on their strike sacrifice.  There is enough in the current scenario for both managers and unionists to second-guess the strategies of their higher-ups. 

But, the beauty of private sector collective bargaining is that the parties can reach all sorts of arrangements on their own, with accountabilities for decision-making are easier to trace.  Furthermore, the company and its unions have to keep in mind maintaining a wholesome and ongoing relationship, so what may appear to be clumsy half-steps to the onlooker may be just what is needed long term to provide stability and ongoing viability for both Verizon and its unions.