(I wrote this original post in 2010-ish – but I could have written it today! Updated for today’s COVID crisis.)
As HR Pros I think we have the slight ability to come off as anti-union and pro-management, emphasis on “slight”! It probably comes from too many interactions where we feel our hands get tied with contract language that either negatively impacts our ability to do our jobs effectively, or language that just lacks plain common sense.
The one thing I always hope for though is, in the end, the union and management still have the same goal (I said I hope!) to make the company successful. Having a successful company usually ends up working out well for both parties. A successful company has more profits, more profits allow for larger pools of dollars to negotiate over, and while both parties never get everything they want, both get more for sure. If the company isn’t successful both don’t get more. Pretty easy to figure that out.
Years ago, 60 Minutes interviewed then General Electric CEO, Jeff Immelt, and he made a very interesting comment at the end of the interview when talking about his own employees at GE, that got quite a bit of media play –
“They root for us. They want us to win. I don’t know why you don’t.”
The “you” at the end of his statement, was America!
His point is that people around the world “root” for their local companies to succeed. In Germany the German citizens root for Siemens to be the best in the world, the Japanese want Toshiba, Honda, Toyota, etc. to be wildly successful.
In America, we have too many citizens who think our big companies are “evil” if they are succeeding. Isn’t that strange?
I get why this tide has turned too many big companies have done bad things so we think it’s alright to put them all into the same bucket. But that goes against all common sense. If we want a strong economy and more jobs, we need our companies to kick butt!
I hear people, in the media, on blogs, in person, etc. rail against American corporations for being profitable, for hoarding cash, for basically being a successfully run company. My company works with General Motors. During the Great Recession when GM declared bankruptcy and the government bailed them out, as a supplier, we had to make some concessions if we wanted to continue that relationship (I think anyone of us running the company would have asked for the same thing). GM has once again become profitable, they renegotiated our contract and increased our contract.
Now, GM doesn’t determine if my company stays in business or not they are a small part of our overall business but I root for them to succeed. I hope they make a Billion dollars a day! I hope Marriott and Amazon and Apple do the same. I hope all the Banks succeed. We need all of our American companies to be successful, globally.
Here’s what I know. I have friends and neighbors who work for GM some in management, some on the line. When they go out and buy a car/truck/SUV they buy GM. They want their company to succeed. They want their company to make money. It’s good for their family, it’s good for their cities and it’s good for America.
I root for American companies to succeed (quite frankly I root for all companies to succeed!). Do you?