Labor-management partnerships said to thrive on trust

Mutual trust is the foundation of successful partnerships between labor and management, according to federal managers and union leaders attending the Excellence in Government 2000 conference Tuesday.

Participants in the conference discussed how strong relationships between federal management and labor unions are created and sustained. The consensus was that both sides need to trust and respect each other to reach agreements.

Robert Wilkerson, assistant commissioner for customer service at the Internal Revenue Service, said mutual respect between the IRS and the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) has been crucial in negotiating successfully.

"The key is building trust and building a relationship. We have tried very hard to listen to each other," he said.

NTEU president Colleen M. Kelley praised the strong partnership between the two organizations, saying it was the result of hard work and compromise on both sides. She also said the good national partnership between the IRS and NTEU was not necessarily indicative of strong relationship at the local level around the country.

Wilkerson said keeping all stakeholders informed during negotiations is key to a successful resolution. Participants need to feel they have a voice in the process, and that the final outcome is a result of a collaborative effort, he said.

The current reorganization underway at the IRS has made the agency's relationship with labor even more crucial, Wilkerson said. The agency's effort to improve customer satisfaction depends on employee satisfaction, he said.

Kelley said labor and management generally have the same objective-in the case of the IRS and NTEU, customer service-but that their approach is often very different. She said when the IRS wanted to make its telephone service available around the clock to taxpayers, employees didn't want to change their shifts, and expected management to hire more workers to handle the greater workload. The IRS and NTEU eventually reached a compromise by providing employees with incentives to change their work schedules.

The Excellence in Government 2000 conference started Tuesday and runs through Thursday at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.