ORG Blog

Best & Worst of Labor Management Relations 2014-Where Are They Now?

At the end of last year, Overland Resource Group announced its annual Best & Worst of Labor Management Relations, highlighting what we felt were 2015’s “best” examples (UAW & Big Three Automakers), “worst” examples (Railway Labor Act), and gave Special Recognition to Salesforce for taking bold action to assure equal compensation for women and men. The 2015 list took a more macro-tack than previous years. We thought it interesting to revisit those named in our 2014 Best & Worst list to see what has changed in just over one year. Here are some highlights:


Ford Motor Company and UAW – Contract negotiations opened in 2015, and a tentative agreement was reached and ratified by membership. Tough yet collaborative negotiations brought forth an agreement that met UAW member needs and gave Ford the predictability and stability of a cost competitive agreement.

Alabama Power and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers – in 2015, IBEW made retiring CEO Charles McCrary an honorary member, believed to the first time the recognition has been given to a utility executive. According to the news site, McCrary is quoted “One of the things we may have accomplished is we modified the culture just a little bit where management and labor have a mutual respect. I think we have the best relationship of any utility in the nation. I have seen what happens to the company and customer service when there is not a good relationship and I’ve seen what happens when there is. I prefer the latter.” IBEW’s, director of the IBEW Utility Department, said the strong relationship has continued with new Alabama Power CEO Mark Crosswhite. “You have changed to a new CEO and a new leader of your local IBEW, and yet the relationship has stayed the same,” Hunter is quoted as saying on the Alabama Power site. “It has become institutionalized within your company.”

FAA, National Air Traffic Controllers Association and Professional Aviation Safety Specialists unions

There is enormous complexity for FAA leadership and labor union leaders, working to create the next generation air traffic management system, while operating the existing antiquated system with ever-increasing demands, as a federal organization subject to politics, and government shut down threats. Despite all these challenges, and more, including at 2014 IG report criticizing FAA’s internal controls administering labor relations, a scan of the media from 2014 shows great restraint and lack of acrimony that characterized public exchanges between labor unions at FAA leadership prior to the 2009 focus on joint leadership and collaboration.


Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union

After public acrimony and contentious labor relations that included costly shutdowns at U.S. Pacific coast ports that handle 70% of all Asia trade, PMA and ILWU signed a new five-year contract with federal arbitration. Despite the contract, a scan of the news since 2014 shows that contention is still alive, including work slowdowns criticized in PMA press statements. The long-term cost of ongoing conflicts could be costly, with the Panama Canal widening and development of East coast deep-sea ports offering shippers a more dependable port for trade.

IKEA and its international unions

IKEA’s website extolls an impressive list of accomplishments related to employment, including “best places to work” recognition, minimum living wage improvements that cut turnover, and increase in hourly wages well over federal minimum wage. Last year, IKEA and workers at a British Columbia facility concluded a 17-month standoff that included a worker lock-out, with the signing of a 10-year labor contract. In 2015, the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint against IKEA USA alleging unfair labor practices at a store in Stoughton, Mass, related to employee support of labor unions.


What do you think about the Best & Worst of Labor-Management Relations?

Let’s start a conversation about your thoughts on the 2014 and 2015 lists by commenting below. It’s not too early to voice your opinion below on who should be included on our 2016 Best & Worst of Labor-Management Relations to be published at the end of the year.


Timothy Kincaid, EdD is the CEO & Founder of Kincaid & Associates, which provides coaching, change consulting and leadership development training. Tim is also a member of the Overland Resource Group Consulting Consortium. He can be reached at


Topics: Collaboration Labor Management