Common Questions

  • How do we get started? Some union representatives and employer advocates are trained in IBB techniques. State labor relations agencies and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service have IBB trained mediators. They will provide someone to meet with the parties to discuss the process and train the participants.
  • Will IBB work if the parties' bargaining history has been contentious or hostile? If they are willing to attempt IBB techniques in good faith, they can successfully negotiate a contract.
  • Will the process fail with a strong union? A strong union is trusted by its members. The membership, therefore, will be less suspicious of IBB, and the agreements made with it. Usually strong unions have considerable influence over the members' willingness to accept the tentatively agreed contracts.
  • Do we need a facilitator? An outside facilitator is recommended for the first time the parties use IBB. The facilitator will help them prepare, advise them, and keep them on task. Unless the participants are disciplined, they will have a difficult time keeping themselves on task. Because everyone is encouraged to participate equally in the meetings, they may easily get side tracked. If they are well trained or as they become skilled in the process, they may designate a facilitator from the group to lead the discussion, alternating the task for each issue among the participants.
  • What is the role of paid advocates and union business agents? Paid advocates and union business agents may participate in IBB without threatening the process. In contrast with the traditional bargaining process, they are not the chief spokesperson for their team. Their expertise in defining issues and solving problems is beneficial to the process.
  • What about training before the IBB meetings begin? By whom? It is important that participants become aware of IBB techniques before the meetings begin. They may need training to identify issues, assistance at membership meetings to describe the process, and help to develop the data and statistics that they will need. Employer advocates and union representatives, trained in IBB and its techniques, may provide the training, even if they will not be active participants in the IBB meetings. Alternately, facilitators may provide training and other assistance.
  • What is the role of advocacy organizations? Employer organizations and unions should be involved in some way, even if their representatives will not be participating at the IBB meetings. They can provide the preliminary training and statistical data, and help prepare the members for IBB.