It did not take long for the conference room to fill with smoke. The building for the most part was a smoke free establishment. The meetings that took place between management and the labor union often developed stress and drama. The smoke free rules were quickly negotiated away for this room. The concerns of the collective bargaining process were more important than a stalling in progress due to nicotine addictions. Momentum was usually key when it came to avoiding work stoppages. The need to keep moving the process forward was sometimes the only thing both sides had in common. Today was no exception.
“We will consider your proposal.” The lawyer sat next to Nathanial as a representative of the company. “What would you be willing to give us if we were to make this pledge?”
“What do you want?” Gordon was young but seemed to have spent his entire adult life at this table. He was picked to be a union representative right away because his father had served in that role prior. When his father was ready to retire from the smoke-filled room, everyone had seen it proper to send his son in as a replacement. More importantly, they did not want the headache the job entailed.
“Well if you want us to break protocol and sign a guarantee that we will not be relocating overseas, we will want a guarantee that labor wants us to be competitive here.” The lawyer had a look of a master gamer positioning his pieces for the checkmate. “We would like wages to be locked in for a specific period. We would like a guarantee that the deal is voided if there is any type of work stoppage or delays.”
“I will take it back for my people to consider.” Gordon knew it was a trick. The set efficiency that would be in the agreement would be set to a point where it was not reachable. When the unreasonable mark was failed to be met, the management would be free from their end. Not only would they not have the burden of upholding their half of the bargain, they would also come out as the good guys. Gordon knew it would appear the management did everything in their power to keep the jobs here. But ultimately were forced overseas by a ‘greedy lazy union’. “We would like to have input setting the production goals.”
Nathanial knew Gordon was a better player than his lawyer. Gordon was aware of the game Nathanial wanted to play. Nathanial had been working on this move for a long time. He knew the area was full of expensive experienced workers but the true means of success was to increase the bottom line. Gordon was making it difficult. The company could not just shut down and wait for a facility to be opened overseas. He needed the workers here to keep producing their product. Mr. Stanley had not made the decision yet, but Nathanial had been working to convince the board members to act if Mr. Stanley failed to make the difficult announcement.
“Well I see we have some things to mull over.” The lawyer pushed away from the table. “We will meet in three days to see where we can agree.”
Nathanial waited to follow the group as they stood and headed out the door. They were the spokesman for his will, but the lawyers seemed not to be the cherished representatives that he paid them to be.
Gordon had many last-minute notes he had to make. His colleagues were finishing their smokes before excusing themselves. Several had to return to their shift or the fighting they had endured at this table would be for not. Earning a wage meant nothing if you did not put in your half of the agreement.
Nathanial approached him when they were alone. “Would you consider taking a position overseas if we decide to go that route?” The fastest way to eliminate the threat of the union was to make their chief weapon an ally. A promotion would mean that Gordon would be on Nathanial’s team.
“No, my life is here with my family. Even the ones I get paid to spend time with here.” Gordon had the ability to move up in rank at the company several times. He chose to stay static out of obligation to his coworkers represented at the table.
“We want you to stay part of the Stanley Tire family no matter what comes our way.” Nathanial knew he had to lure the young man away from being an obstacle.
“I don’t think you know what truly is at stake here. I don’t think you know the lives that are kept afloat behind your brand. That is what true family is like.” Gordon was adamant in his cause.
“Do you know what this will cost you?” Anger seemed to cloud a bit of Nathanial’s cause.
“I don’t think you know the price I would be willing to pay to make sure we get a fair shake.” The words Gordon relayed were a clean version of what his mind was cycling through. He wanted to resort to some primordial violence and remove Nathanial.
“So, you would pay any price?”