How to Play Nice with Unions

There's no need to fear organized labour when you know how to negotiate fairly

Written by Staff

Lockouts hurt business owners and employees, but they’re particularly deadly to sports leagues. This summer, the Canadian Football League and the CFL Players’ Association managed to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement without ceasing operations or even generating many headlines. Here are three basic rules of negotiation from Michael Copeland, the league’s president and COO:

1. Talk to shareholders

“Your own internal stakeholders—whether it be the board, your operators, key employees—need to be kept informed of how the negotiations are proceeding, how issues are being presented, options that are being considered. Ultimately , they’ll have to support whatever you agree to, and you don’t want any surprises.”

2. Park your emotions

“It’s important to understand that, for the people on the other side of the table, this is their livelihood. It directly impacts them and their families. Everybody has a lot at stake in these negotiations and emotions can run high. But if you can put that aside, it reduces a lot of the friction and doesn’t introduce other barriers to getting things done.”

3. Shake hands every day

“I was very happy that, no matter how engaged we were during discussions—and we had very frank, very open, very passionate discussions—there were always handshakes and smiles for the other side when the meetings were over. We respected them, they respected us; I think that gives you the confidence to realize that no matter what, you’ll end up in a good place.”

This story is part of the package in the October 2014 issue of Canadian Business. Click here for more useful, business-building tips, or here to subscribe to the magazine!

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com