Top 3 Tips to Successful Labor Negotiations


By Brian Hall

Creating a successful outcome during complex labor negotiations is often a delicate balancing act. While I’m not a legal expert, I do know that going into negotiations with a logical, well-thought-out plan generally helps you to negotiate the best possible contract for your organization. With that being said, our team at Medical Solutions Strike Staffing (formally Nurse Bridge) has listed our top 3 tips to successful labor negotiations:

1. Compare and Contrast: How do you measure and quantify the impact on your organization if you do not reach a successful agreement with your labor union? Generating accurate data in respect to wages and benefits is critical to developing successful outcomes. What amount is the right amount? What does the market bear? Most industry experts agree that the negotiating team should look at external factors, such as other employers’ compensation packages for similar work, major benefits provided by comparable employers, and recent contract settlement terms for comparable employers.

2. Consider Cost: What other workforce challenges are on the table and what do they cost? For example, adding additional staff to decrease the workload has a cost, as does health insurance and retirement benefits. According to an article from the UC Berkeley Labor Center, health costs or health insurance premiums ultimately come out of what would otherwise be wages for workers.

3. Know Your Priorities: According to Nolo, when you negotiate, you need to know what your top priorities are — usually the business or money-making opportunity offered by the deal — and how your other priorities rank below that. This will help you keep your eyes on the prize and avoid getting bogged down in issues that are not as important to you.

When addressing complex negotiations, using a scoring system could be helpful. In this system, you can lay all of your challenges on the table and allocate a number based on their importance to each side. For example, see the below table:




 5% discrepancy in wages



 $800k cost to maintain current health insurance



 Hire 5 additional FTE’s



 Add vision insurance




In this case, you could conclude that maintaining health insurance and hiring 5 additional FTE’s (issues with priority 2 and 4) carry a similar value as the 5% wage discrepancy and adding vision insurance. Above all, you need to ask yourself what your contingency plan is if negotiations fail. Having a proper contingency plan, including contracting with a company like Medical Solutions, can help you enter into negotiations with confidence.

Should you have any questions about contingency planning, please reach out to Medical Solutions Strike Staffing, a leading provider of hospital contingency planning and replacement staffing. For more than 20 years, we have assisted hundreds of hospitals with contingency planning and labor dispute staffing.

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