Ask the average LR Specialist or union rep to list the various stages of the mid-term bargaining process and you are likely to hear a list of five or six, e.g., change is proposed, the union submits proposals, face-to-face bargain, mediation, impasse, agreement. While each is a recognized stage in the process, the truly experienced negotiators (or what might be called Master Negotiators) think of  it as having many more.  Listed below are the 20 discrete parts they typically plan around. The value of looking at many distinct pieces is that each has its own legal and other subtleties that Master Negotiators on either side of the bargaining table can exploit to gain an advantage or simply use to help both parties get over a hurdle.  For example, there is significant FLRA case law spelling out rules and/or options at each stage as well. Leading a bargaining team without knowing the tricks, traps, techniques, and tactics of each stage is not a wise move.  In fact, it is reckless. That is why we are so enthusiastic about the training Learning Everywhere® offers on federal sector mid-term bargaining.  Their trainers are actual chief negotiators who have sat on both sides of the table, not merely neutrals or academics who have observed, read about, or studied what the best Chief Negotiators do. They know the FLRA precedents and FSIP tendencies to rely upon and the ways to squeeze out an advantage over the other side of the table.

The table that follows gives you a partial idea of what Learning Everywhere trainers use to identify the various stages. Of course, they fill in the blank spaces on the union as well as agency side of the table to provide a complete understanding of the case law and other advice.

1   A change is contemplated by the agency  
2   A change is finalized by the agency  
3   The bargaining obligation is assessed by the agency.  
4   Adequate notice of change is served  
5   Bargaining is invoked by the union  
6   The bargaining demand is assessed by the agency  
7   Ground rules are negotiated and finalized  
8   Bargaining preparation occurs  
9   Union proposals are submitted  
9   Union information demands are made  
10   Face-to-face bargaining begins  
11   Negotiability disputes arise  
12   Other litigation begins to spin off  
13   Mediation begins if no agreement  
14   Impasse is reached and a Last Best Offer made  
15   Parties petition the FSIP to take jurisdiction  
16   FSIP imposes final and binding order, if no deal  
17   Ratification of the provisions not imposed  
18   Execution of the agreement  
19   Agency head approval of the agreement—or not  
20   Implementation of the agreement  

Other relevant bargaining topics Learning Everywhere® delivers masterfully include:

  • 20 Common Appropriate Arrangement Proposals Unions Make and How Agency Can Deal with Them.
  • The 12 Levels of Control Over Negotiable Agency Decisions Parties Bargain About.
  • Using and/or Dealing with an All-Litigation-all-the-Time Bargaining Strategy
  • A Dozen Ways Agencies Can Undercut a Union’s Right to Bargain
  • The Science, Not Just IBN Tips, About Bargaining
  • How Bargaining Delay Occurs and Ways to Speed Up the Process
  • How to Dissect and Simplify a Bargaining Dispute
  • Games Negotiators Play With Contract Language

If you are interested in negotiations training contact Learning Everywhere®.  It is an EDWOSB and Hub Zone owned business dedicated to building organizational learning communities everywhere!  It works with people who are forward thinking, have positive energy and lively expectations to increase individual effectiveness while achieving mission critical goals.   With offices just outside of Washington, D.C. this team of master trainers and facilitators offers decades of experience working with adult learners in the Federal Government and unions of federal employees. Its leader is Sheila Lee, who managed training programs at the Peace Corps as well as a major federal sector union before establishing the firm.  Check out its web site at if you want to know more.

About AdminUN

FEDSMILL staff has over 40 years of federal sector labor relations experience on the union as well as management side of the table and even some time as a neutral.
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