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Wage Issues and Economic Supplements
The interview for this assignment was conducted with the human resources manager of Ford Motor Company. The company has prolonged its partnership with the United Automobile Workers union. The interview questions and their answers are listed below.
How do you rate the wage level in your company in relation to the minim wage?
Ford Motor is a company that attributes its success on the quality of its manufactured vehicles. These high quality standards can only be achieved with the quality input of our workers. Therefore, their performance becomes connected with their job satisfaction, which relies on the wages they receive for their work. We want high quality work, and we pay higher than average wages.
Q2: Are there any types of jobs within your company where you pay minimum wages?
A2: There most certainly are. We have positions where unskilled workers are required. For such positions, like cleaning positions, or food provision positions, we pay the minimum wage. These are jobs that are not affected by a high level of safety issues and do not require higher pay. We are also not interested in the loyalty of employees in such positions, as their occupants are usually individuals that are in search of more interesting jobs, so there is no need to invest in retaining them.
Q3: But in these cases do you offer these workers any additional economic supplements?
A3: Yes. If we do not invest in retaining such personnel, it does not mean that we are not interested in their welfare. Therefore, these minimum wage workers receive the same economic supplements are the rest of skilled workers. These can be monthly meal tickets, holiday meal tickets or other shopping vouchers. We believe in not discriminating our workers, regardless of their wage, skills, and position.
Q4: Employees in higher positions benefit from economic supplements of greater value?
A4: Yes, they do, and this is perfectly normal. Here, at Ford, we believe in rewarding people in accordance with the skills that are required by their job, with the level of requirements of each job, and with their performance. Therefore, people in management positions, whether it's top or middle level, benefit from significant economic supplements. In addition to meal tickets that are offered on a monthly basis, managers benefit from vouchers they can use at spas and recreation centers, apparel stores, and entertainment centers. We provide such vouchers that can be used by employees with their families on a periodical basis, usually quarterly.
Q5: Do you provide other perks and benefits to your employees?
A5: We also develop team building programs, some of them are organized abroad, in different countries that our employees would like to visit, but do not often have the opportunity. This is intended to increase their satisfaction, and improve their engagement with the company. It also helps employees develop and improve team relationships.
Q6: In developing this wage and economic supplements strategy did your company consult with union representatives?
A6: As in most situations where large companies employing workers must deal with union requests in their collective bargaining process, our company was also forced to bargain with the Automotive Workers Union.
Q7: Was this collective bargaining successful? Was thin a win -- win situation, or do you feel that one side won more benefits in comparison with the other side?
A7: I think it was very close to a win -- win situation. It was not possible for us to satisfy each of the union's requests. This is mostly the case of wage levels. The company cannot provide the exact level of wages requested by the union. This is one of the reasons for which we provide economic supplements to our workers.
Q8: How do you feel about unions, do you think they are helpful in managing the relationship between companies and their employees?
A8: There are numerous opinions revealed by different newspapers that provide interviews with company representatives that consider that unions are not good for collective bargaining (Masterfano, 2013). I happen to share this opinion.
It seems that the human resources manager of Ford Motor Company has a liberal view on establishing wages and economic supplements. However, this does not mean that the company does not collaborate with union representatives in order to identify the best solution that would allow the company to improve the performance of its employees while investing reasonable amounts of finances in their wages.
The policy of the company is to provide its workers average wages in accordance with the standards of wages established by the automotive industry. In order to improve performance, the company supplies workers' wages with different economic benefits intended to assist workers in shopping or other activities they require.
At the Bargaining Table
The interview for this paper was conducted with the company's union representative. This is intended to help readers understand the union's point-of-view and approach in its relationship with Ford Motor Company. When analyzing all parties involved in a negotiation, it is easier to identify the factors that influence the relationship between them.
Question 1: Does your bargaining process with the company follow general rules described by labor relations books that are taught in schools, universities, and different programs?
Answer 1: Our bargaining process follows the standard steps described by the literature in the field, but we also have the flexibility of adapting to the requirements of each situation by modifying this process.
Q2: What is the most difficult step in the bargaining process in your opinion?
A2: I think that negotiation sessions with Ford's management are probably the most important, and the most difficult step in our bargaining process.
Q3: How many sessions do usually take place before reaching consensus?
A3: From my experienced I noticed that it usually takes three to five sessions in order to reach this objective.
Q4: And do you think this is a small or a large number of bargaining sessions?
A4: There are companies that have only one negotiation session with their union members, and companies that have approximately ten such meetings. If the desired objectives are reached I do not consider the number of negotiation sessions being small or large. For us it is important that the company's management accepts most of our demands.
Q5: What are the demands proposed by the union that seem to be the most difficult to negotiate with the company's managers?
A5: The wages level, of course. Our main objective is to determine the company to increase salaries. The company's management does not usually want to increase investments in human resources. Basically, they would like to benefit from this performance while not increasing investments. But we are trying to get them to understand the fact that the current economic situation, and inflation require that workers' salaries are increased. Workers are differently affected by inflation in comparison with other types of employees. This is because they have smaller salaries, and most of them are used on food and utilities. Other employees can spend on vacations, home purchasing and decorating, and others. Therefore, it is important that the company's managers understand that the salaries of workers must be established in accordance with the evolution of prices.
Q6: What does the company's management do when you request salary increases?
A6: They usually try to convince us that the company would have difficulties in supporting wage increases. But they also try to convince us that are requests matter to them by developing a rewards system that is based on providing workers different economic supplements.
Q7: Do you find economic supplements satisfactory for improving your union members' condition?
A7: Economic supplements help, but they cannot significantly influence people's situation. However, we are satisfied that we can determine the company's management to provide additional benefits to employees.
Q8: How flexible do you consider the company's management is?
A8: I think they are more flexible in comparison with other company's managers, but there is still room for improving their flexibility. This is because when they do not want to satisfy some of our demands, they try to offer us something else. Like the situation where we ask them to increase wages, they say they can't, but they provide certain economic supplements to workers.
The union representatives that negotiate with Ford Motor's company managers seem to be satisfied with the labor relationship between the company and its employees. The interview was intended to determine whether bargaining between Ford and its union follow the usual process. In most cases, the bargaining process starts with each side assigning the negotiation team. Union members then try to identify the needs expressed by workers, and to develop negotiation proposals. The negotiation team of the company also prepares certain proposals that it can offer to union representatives. Most of these negotiations rely on anticipating the other party's interests and objectives (Budd, 2012). Identifying these issues makes it easier to find agreement. An important success factor at the bargaining table is represented by the flexibility revealed by unions and companies.…[continue]
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