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Newtown Teachers’ Union and the Board of Education

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 3144 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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The Newtown dispute involved two parties; Newtown Teachers’ Union and the Board of Education. As agents for the Teachers’ Union, our aim is to negotiate and bargain employment terms for the renewal of contract expiring on June 30. After two meetings of negotiation, our team successfully settled with an agreement with the Board of Education. In this report, it will discuss the members involved, analyse the outcome achieved and evaluate how power, influence and authority affected the negotiation.

Interests, needs, Goals, Objectives



I am a full-time teacher working at Newtown and I rely this job as my primary source of income. Since cost of living have increased continuously over the years, it became harder for me to pay bills that frequently comes every quarter and month. Hence, my need is to have job security to generate financial stability for my living. I am also part of the Teachers Union because I believe all teachers deserve to be respected that we care about having quality education for everyone.

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I prioritised my goals in terms of achieving my interests and objectives. For example, I can secure my job and continue to support my cost of living if the board agrees on better employment terms. My second objective is to build trusting relationships with The Board and Teachers’ Union, so I can satisfy my second goal. Hopefully in the end, I can get promoted in the Department of Education and continue to serve for teachers because I am being recognised for my reliability, creditability in my negotiation performance, satisfying my second and fourth interests.




The Teachers Union comprised of full-time teachers who have been teaching for 20 years and some of us who have been teaching less than 10 years. Our Union represent all the teachers at Newtown and share interests as mentioned above. We strongly value maintaining quality of education but should not cut teaching staff and benefits we deserve because we rely on our job to generate finances to support our family, mortgages and living costs.

After the sixth times negotiating, we received more pressure from both the community and teachers and is uncertain to what outcomes we will receive this time. We hope that we can settle on a satisfying agreement that both parties benefit but if we have no agreement at the end of the negotiation, we will go on a strike. 



The State Commissioner is regarded as an ambitious public figure with a primary interest of maintaining reputation in the community. Sustaining relationships with the board is placed last in my goals because I have the power to remove any chairperson for not handling a good job. Being able to develop equitable contract terms with the Union is prioritised first in my goal as I want to continue to sustain being a favourable political figure.


Our team shared the main interests and agreed that securing employment and financial security can protect teachers rising cost of living. Our next interest is to achieve the best outcome while maintaining our reputation in the negotiation with the Board. As such, no teacher layoffs, increase salary and benefits would satisfy our main objectives in the long run. We are open to make concessions with benefits to achieve our main objectives for the teachers and produce the best outcome for the negotiation.

After two meetings with the Board, we managed to achieve no layoffs for teachers, securing their employment. We managed to achieve 2.2% of salary increase which is a 0.1% increase to our previous contract. In terms of fringe benefits like paid workload, carers leave and childbirth was unchanged of the budget but as long as we achieve our main objectives we are satisfied with the outcome. We made concessions of only 9 days of paid sick leave to accumulated sick leave. It is evident that we achieved great outcome in favourable to our interests and objectives. 


In the understanding of our negotiation we discussed our negotiation in an interest and team-based environment where setting clear objectives to benchmark our position and to ensure our ideas, interests and objectives are met (Forester, 1987) this also allows for free flow of shared ideas in our team and in another team. Our teams developed a tactic of starting with integrative strategy and slowly moving onto competitive. During the negotiation, our team didn’t follow our choice of strategy, instead, we used a mix of strategies to achieve our outcomes. Such as; distributive strategy to achieve no teacher layoffs and integrative strategy for other benefits in the negotiation. This is because the Board adopted a competitive approach and being persistent on their grounds. Hence, the result we had to change our plans again to meet our interests and objectives and to avoid communication barriers for both parties to understand (Sheldon, (comp.), 2015).

Both parties face the underlying problem of the conflicting of interests and objectives in the negotiation that made it difficult to come to an agreement. Our teams’ interests are similarly aligned to the Board’s interests as we are both determined of agreeing to a contract and securing the quality of education. Since both parties strive to ‘win-lose’ in the negotiation because of their persistence in their interests and objectives that both created a strong and well- structured strategy and tactics that allowed the negotiation to be inflexible and hard to understand (Lindholst, 2014 and Sheldon (comp.), 2015). Moreover, my team was swept with qualitative and quantitative data such as the budget and the bargaining mix. The unexplained figures in the budget and ‘getting back to us’ in the second meeting was time consuming as both parties were not clear of the information presented and as a result, it distracted our train of thoughts and making the Board to also change their mind as what they previously had (Lindholst, 2014). This affected both parties coming to an agreement. By the end of the first meeting, there was growing tensions between the two teams and no outcomes was achieved.

  1. Assessment of the outcomes

Although we achieved no layoffs for the teachers, we were not satisfied with no increase to other benefits we deserve. Such as; break time, prep time which was important to us teachers as we use our quality time to mark papers and even bringing home where we could be resting to improve boost energy. The imbalance of the budget by the Board and refusing to give more break time and benefits forces us to accept and agree with their terms and the negative framing. The power redirected back to us by threatening that the teachers would go on a strike. The Board was not frightened that we will go on a strike but was scared that they position would be replaced by a new member of the Board. This negative framing created issues of trust for both parties and made it harder to bargain when we know the budget would be involved in the negotiation that stopped our objectives from moving forward. We value the quality of education whereas the Board value efficiency and job performance making it hard to come to an agreement. As a result, both parties eventually come to an agreement. 




  1. Power and Influence

Power is a form of control that has the ability to change outcomes by manipulating other party’s interests (Khakhar & Ahmed, 2017). Before the negotiation began, our team perceived that there would be an imbalance of power in the negotiation. As such, we are already placed in great disadvantage before starting the negotiation. The Board possessed legitimate power as they are a government body. This is a form of power that asserts formal title and use its title to control our thinking (Riasi & Asadzadeh, 2016). In contrast, we should feel vulnerable and extroverted as the Board presses great power, influence and hold higher hierarchy on us. In fact, our team hold power and tactic of what we called ‘goal interdependence’ where common goals are shared between the group by working collaboratively to create better outcomes for all members (Aritzeta & Balleuerka, 2006). This assertiveness not only gained us an advantage in the negotiation but also helped us to achieve our main objectives – no layoffs for teachers as we shared common objectives and interests. Our team contained coercive power of going into a strike if no outcome is achieved. This is a strong but weak power. Going on a strike is a short-term goal that could force the Board to agree with our terms but in the long-term, it could damage trust and reputation for the teachers’ union (Wolfe & McGinn, 2005).

According to Goncalves (2013), influence is the ability to alter another party’s perception or behaviour. The Board have both the power and influence on Newtown’s education system. This meant that it was difficult to alter their perception to align with our interests. Overseeing the growing tensions, I decided to call for a ‘break in the balcony’, we discussed that we needed to change our integrative strategy to a competitive strategy now to ensure our interests are still met. That is, influencing our interests to theirs. We achieved this by having one person talking the importance of quality education while I am in the ‘shadows’ by supporting her framing my stories and experiences (Wade, 2015). According to Shell and Moussa (2007), a visionary influence is a form of reason-based tool that will capture your opponent’s attention that create higher aspirations, feelings and purposes in the negotiation.


  1. Authority

 Authority is when a higher individual in the hierarchy produces dominance to someone in the lower hierarchy – the teachers’ union (Shell & Moussa, 2007). We allowed power to defer to authority because we believed the projected budget is credible and valid. In fact, during the break we discussed and know the Board can alter the figures in the budget but refused to by saying ‘out of our hands’ repeatedly every time we used framing to negotiate with them to understand importance of quality education and detriment of a yes to layoffs. We believed the Board was lying by trying to mislead us with ‘sharing of budget information’ in the negotiation so we would be confused and affecting our tactics, this is evident in numerous of ‘out of their hands’ to dodge the real answer (Adler, 2015).


  1. Constituency 

We are called the agents, representatives for the union. While the teachers of Newtown is described as the constituents or principal. (Mnookin et al., 2015). Being as an agent, we possess great expertise and ‘tactic flexibility’ that allow us to engage in various roles to leverage influences on the constituencies’ behaviour, we do so by having two people being the bargainer, I switched between as the mediator and a bargainer while the other is a fact finder in weeks 11 and 12. As mentioned before, our team convinced them numerous times to ‘no layoffs’  and was not frightened by ‘going on a strike’ threat as we hold coercive power and ‘militancy’. According Farrow (2008), when a party holds great power, they are less scared of what the other party will do to them. The other party used more good cop and bad cop tactic in our scenario. This is evident in, where the constituency is putting financial pressures on us and trying to use negative framing on us ‘it simply is not possible’ to make the numbers equal in the budget if we have no layoffs. We guilt tripped them with our emotions ‘we feel you don’t care about us, which is very disappointing’ to affect their thinking and agree with us (Leary et al., 2015). However, the Board and the ‘budget’ imposes higher authority than us that we were frustrated and difficult to further make other concessions.

part 3


Although the union achieved great outcomes for the teachers of Newtown, there are improvements in the renegotiation that I believe we could do to achieve strong outcomes for the Union. As a team, our mistake was letting the Board to gain bargaining power over us because we were too objective focused in wanting to achieve no layoffs for the teachers. As a result, this made it difficult and restricted us to bargain concessions such as the prep time and workload successfully and not able to achieve our other objectives. Instead, we should bargain and negotiate the unimportant bargaining mix first such as; evaluation of teachers. This is due to the fact disguising as ‘friendly’ in the negotiation will often make the Board they are not prepared in the negotiation (Allred, 2015). Our team prepared in a team- based environment where we shared a bundle of ideas across the table and planned on using integrative tactic and slowly move on to competitive tactic and is adamant on our position as we want to achieve financial and employment security. In the second meeting, we established distributive approach and attained no layoffs. This tactic is supported by the functioning of various roles played in the negotiation and ‘goal interdependence’ power to achieve this outcome where our team performed best. In terms of my performance individually and in team, I was not actively engaging at the negotiation that contributed to the loss of not attaining leave benefits. This is because in Babcock and Laschever (2015) enforced that in an individual’s mind, they hold trust the other members in the team with stronger ability of bargaining would gain more success in the negotiation. I also allowed the Board’s interest to cloud my thinking and judgement that created barriers to communicate with the team, as I felt distanced and manipulated. To overcome this issue and improve my future negotiations is that I should be self -aware of my own behaviours and impulses during the negotiation so I can control my emotions (Beneoliel & Cashdan, 2015). I should participate and engage in team discussions to improve my team work and communication skills to enforce a free flow of ideas and information and ensure our interests, objectives are aligned.  I should be more flexible and creative to help my team members when they are out of persuasion to bargain with the Board (Bneoliel & Cashdan, 2015). Overall, I believe our team achieved our objectives that resulted to satisfying outcomes for us and the teachers of Newtown.



  • Adler, R. S. 2015, ‘Negotiating with Liars’, Reading 18 in Sheldon, (comp.), MGMT3721 Negotiation Skills for UNSW.
  • Allred, K. 2015, ‘The High Cost of Low Trust’, Reading 32 in Sheldon, (comp.), MGMT3721 Negotiation Skills for UNSW.
  • Aritzeta A & Balluerka N 2006, “Cooperation, competition and goal interdependence in work teams: a multilevel approach”, Psicothema, vol. 18, no.4, pp.757-765.
  • Babcock, L. & Laschever, S. 2015, ‘Individual Differences’, Reading in 36, (comp.), MGMT3721 Negotiation Skills for UNSW.
  • Benolier, M & Cashdan, L. 2015, ‘Become a Master Negotiator’, Reading 37 in Sheldon, (comp.), MGMT3721 Negotiation Skills for UNSW.
  • Farrow C.W.T. 2008, ‘Representative Negotiation’, The Theory and Practice of Representative Negotiation, pp. 11-37.
  • Forester, J. 1987, ‘Planning in the Face of Conflict’, Journal of the American Planning Association, pp.433-446.
  • Khakhar, P & Ahmed U.Z 2017, “The Concept of power in international business negotiations: An empirical investigation”, Journal of Transnational Management, vol.22, no.1, pp. 25-52.
  • Leary, K., Pillemer, J. & Wheeler, M. 2015, ‘Negotiating with Emotion’, Reading 22 in Sheldon, (comp.), MGMT3721 Negotiation Skills for UNSW.
  • Lindholst, M. 2014, ‘Negotiation Planning and Preparation in Practice’, International Association for Conflict Management, pp.1-27.
  • Pfeffer, J 2015, ‘Where Does Power Come From?’, Reading 24 in Sheldon, (comp.), MGMT3721 Negotiation Skills for UNSW.
  • Riasi A & Asadzadeh N 2016, “How Coercive and Legitimate Power Relate to Different Conflict Management Styles: A Case Study of Birijand High Schools, Journal of Studies in Education, vol. 6, no.1, pp.147-159.
  • Sheldon (comp.) (2015) MGMT 3721 Negotiation Skills for UNSW, ch.1.
  • Sheldon, (comp.) (2015) MGMT 3721 Negotiation Skills for UNSW, ch. 4.
  • Wade J.H. 2015, ‘Bargaining in the Shadow of the Tribe’, Reading 30 in Sheldon, (comp.), MGMT3721 Negotiation Skills for UNSW.
  • Wolfe J. R & McGinn L. K 2005, “Perceived Relative Power and its Influence on Negotiations”, Group Decision and Negotiation, no.14, pp.3-20.




Appendix A: Prioritised interests, goals and objectives for personal, team members and constituency 

Appendix B:  Teachers’ Union and The Board of Education Agreement


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