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A new certificate education program is being introduced to help improve labor-management relations among Quad-City employers and their work forces.

St. Ambrose University Center for Professional Development and Quad-City Area Labor-Management Council, or QCALM, announced a new Labor-Management Certificate to educate a new generation of workers and managers about the benefits of interest-based bargaining. The program can help companies and labor groups — union and non-union — learn to collaborate to save time, reduce grievances and eliminate arbitration.

"The theme of this is moving from adversarial positional approaches to labor-management issues into some kind of interest-based, integrative thinking," said Randy Richards, a longtime St. Ambrose professor, who will teach the program’s conflict resolution course.

The new course will combine the expertise of several veteran St. Ambrose faculty with QCALM, a nonprofit whose mission is to educate and train the Quad-Cities' work force to ultimately drive more economic growth. 

Introduced 20 years ago, the practice of interest-based bargaining is gaining new momentum, said David Buller, QCALM's chief executive officer. "The workforce is changing and a new generation of workers is more willing to look at interest-based bargaining rather than an adversarial style where you lock in on a position and butt heads until someone wins."

Buller said as the Baby Boomers retire and Millennials fill the worker ranks employers are discovering "the Millennials' wants and needs are much different than what has been the wants and the needs of employees."

Likewise, he said a new work force and a new generation of management need to learn how to work together. "There is not a real relationship of mutual respect and trust that has been built over the years. That takes some history and some training on how to work together."

The new certificate program will teach conflict resolution skills, team-building concepts, sound decision-making and offer hands-on experience in contract negotiation, grievance handling and arbitration. Buller said the program is designed for employees new to union leadership, those who want to be union leaders as well as managers in business, industry and government who work with union labor forces or non-union work forces.

"Our hope is that management and labor can start settling their grievances at the lower levels rather than taking it to arbitration," said Buller, who brings the labor perspective to the class. He and Richards will be joined by John Tacker, an experienced labor relations attorney, and St. Ambrose instructors Frederick Smith and Arthur Pitz.

Individuals can complete all six classes to earn a certificate. But a company or union also can opt to send different representatives to the individual courses to build skills specific to their position.

For more information or to enroll, contact Cheryl Riley at 563-333-5745 or RileyCherylA@sau.edu.

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