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Sunday, August 25, 2013

It’s Not Healthy to Rage and Hate

Negotiation vs. invective
“Probe with bayonets. If you encounter steel, withdraw. If you encounter mush, continue.” Vladimir Lenin.

Let’s explore normal and stupid in negotiation.

Say you’re interested in moving into a house you like on the East side of Costa Mesa. You think you can afford to buy it for $425,000, but the asking price is $465,000. You offer $400,000 through your agent, expecting a counter offer.

Before it arrives the owner’s son lambastes you on his blog as a “would-be thief who has no interest in living in Costa Mesa and wants to line his pockets by turning dad’s house into a drug-rehab place.”

Still interested in buying the house?

Negotiation isn't cage fighting

In labor-contract negotiations one party makes an offer, the other studies the offer. They're looking for opponents’ implied needs, implied limits, probable negotiating strategy and more. They analyze the offer from several perspectives, and then formulate responses that imply their own position without revealing too much about their limits or strategies. 

Forty years ago negotiations often included accusations, insults, even violence. That doesn't work anymore.

In Costa Mesa

The City recently initiated negotiations with an offer. To her credit, the Union president offered a measured response to the City’s initial offer.

But the initial offer became an excuse for union apologists to insult, demean and vilify the Mayor and Pro Tem. They scream in blogs and commentary (in all caps) about “gutting the existing contract” and “betraying the trust of good employees.” Their screeds accuse the Mayor and Pro Tem of perfidy and evil.

Why scream insults

Part of the employee’s union’s plan? Perhaps. The PD union, (which is being sued by the Mayor and the Pro Tem) attempting to pressure the Mayor and Pro Tem? That might be more likely

For a long time, the unions have probed with bayonets and found mush; they got whatever they wanted. More recently, they probed and found steel. Further, the PD union “playbook” for intimidating government leaders was discovered and published.

Ignoring Lenin’s (purported) advice, they continue to ”push the bayonet.” Perhaps they hope that the bile their supporters spew in blogs, comments, and commission meetings will soften the steel.


It isn’t working, and it’s damaging labor’s credibility. Complainers who whine about many, many issues at length – with irrational and irrelevant nonsense -- don't enhance labor’s position. Hateful screaming doesn't address the “steel” – the resolve of the new Council to reduce expenditures below income.

It’s time to shut the attacks down. Twenty-first century unions negotiate differently. Costa Mesa’s Fire Department’s positive efforts led to a new and mutually beneficial contract, for example.

Maybe they are independent haters 

Perhaps the dozen or so haters spewing their insults and accusations are just loose cannons, not tools of the police union. If they aren't being paid to carp and denounce they need professional help.

It’s not healthy to rage and hate all the time. 

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