Sunday, August 22, 2010

You call that bargaining?

Many Lowell Joint Staff showed up in support of their negotiating team at the beginning of summer. We wanted the appointed Mediator to know that LJSD teachers were very concerned about the negotiations. Our presence was felt and appreciated by our negotiating team, heard by the Moderator, and apparently ignored by the Superintendent and her "negotiating" team.

According to a letter published to teacher union members, the District continued to move in the wrong direction.

My wife is from New York. One morning her and a neighbor were out for a morning exercise walk before work. Passing a fellow walker, my wife said, "Good morning!"

He said, "You call that walking?"

After hearing about the results of the negotiating sessions, I was left with the same sinking feeling: District, you call that bargaining?

More of the same, then it gets worse.


A week or so later on FaceBook, a friend (and fellow teacher from another district) noticed that I was going to participate in a "Wear Black on the First Day" event. His response was "Good luck with that."

What ensued was a thought provoking exchange where my more pragmatic friend explained to me that I was dealing with a different kind of animal... one that doesn't really care about maintaining good will.

I had to admit... he was right. There are certain people who don't play "fair." These are people, who in an argument, know no boundaries. They are ruthless.

Recently an interesting quote showed up on my iGoogle home page:

“I don’t care if people hate my guts; I assume most of them do. The important question is whether they are in a position to do anything about it.”   William S. Burroughs

Burroughs was a non-conformist and not necessarily in a good way. He was also a genius.

I do care if people dislike me, but some people don't seem to care. They may make "good" bosses because of emotional distance. They may help restore short-term fiscal health, but at what cost to the long-term health of the organization?

Eliyahu Goldratt, developer of a management systems paradigm called The Theory of Constraints, argues that long-term health of a company is best achieved by finding Win-Win solutions for all stakeholders in the enterprise. When management wins and workers lose, then nobody wins.

Families, staff, and District Management must work together to find and implement win-win solutions.

But that won't happen if one of the stakeholders doesn't negotiate in good faith. That's short-sighted and demonstrates poor leadership.

Recently the CEO of HP was fired by his board for violating company ethics. The Houston Business Journal reported this:

"Questioning about the circumstances of Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd's resignation continued on the second weekend after his departure in the wake of a sexual harassment complaint."

"The consensus in Silicon Valley is that Mr. Hurd was despised at HP, not just by the rank and file, but even by HP’s top executives," Nocera wrote.

The Times columnist suggests that the sexual harassment claim merely gave the board the pretext for doing what it wanted to do, get rid of Hurd without provoking an outcry on Wall Street where he was extremely popular for turning around the company's finances.

Hurd was "extremely popular (on Wall Street) for turning around the company's finances..." but "...despised at HP, not just by the rank and file, but even by HP's top executives." 

Hurd disregarded some of the stakeholders in his organization. Evidently, he didn't care. (And, he may be laughing all the way to the bank after being fired, after all, his severance package was something like 17 million dollars plus stock options.)

I'm realistic enough to understand that people like that exist, but I find it disheartening to find them operating at the helm of an organization I'm associated with. 

This is new to Lowell Joint, and it's unsettling.

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