I enjoy working with the Union, I really do.
Our interactions come in many shapes and sizes - he is standing at my door staring me down and I must interact, we are discussing an employee issue that has been brought to his attention, I am notifying him of a management decision or action that is being considered or will be taken and we are discussing the implications from both perspectives, and in many cases, we are agreeing to disagree.
I see my relationship with the Union as one that impacts my ability to get my job done on a day to day basis as well as a strategic one for the medical center. Positive union-management relations enable us to get our jobs done collaboratively, to address issues at the lowest level and to reserve the very time consuming "appeal" processes, i.e. grievance, arbitration, unfair labor practice charges, for the times when there is no other option.
I don't receive a grievance, a notice to invoke arbitration, an unfair labor practice charge, or any other form of appeal or response that I was not aware of or did not have an opportunity to address first. We reciprocate by ensuring the Union President does not walk into a meeting unaware of what is happening and that he is kept abreast of decisions, process changes, selections etc that could potentially be an issue for an individual employee or a group of employees. There are required notifications per the statute or Master Agreement we must make to the Union but what I am talking about is beyond that - the courtesies that keep the ship moving forward and the waters calm. There is a time and a place to share information and when I feel it is appropriate, I do. I am not an open book and am very keenly aware that we may have different agendas, although in the end, we want to make it right for employees. In each interaction, I seek to find this common ground.
Yes, to me, the Union can be the annoying "bump in the road " and have what I feel are some pretty absurd positions. They appear to pull interpretations from the Master Agreement that are completely off the wall, and can drive me absolutely crazy with the position/issues they invest their time in. I am sure the feeling go both way some days.
Bottom line is - we have got to work together and it is a balancing act each and every day. Some days it goes better than others but it is a part of my job that I really enjoy.