Q. Our union is preparing to negotiate a new contract with management. Do you have any suggestions for using market data to improve the negotiation?
A. Salary negotiations during collective bargaining don't have to be a painful exercise. Approaching the conversation from a similar perspective can level the playing field.
Companies normally conduct or sponsor market studies to determine appropriate pay levels for their employees. Normally, union representatives participate in such exercises. Beyond that, as a member of a union, you can ask to see the jobs being benchmarked in a market study. Make sure your current responsibilities and those of your colleagues are described accurately so that your jobs are benchmarked properly.
Find out which companies are part of the study and what areas are being considered. If you have skills that transcend one industry, ask what industries are being covered in the study. If the market study is industry-specific, ask what other industries with comparable jobs are paying for those jobs.
If your company presents you with data you disagree with, ask management to review their methodology. Even if you disagree with the results of a study, you should still be able to understand the rationale and the methodology the company used.