Apart from day-to-day dealings with the union as Auto Repair Shop Manager, my first real exposure to labour relations was when I was asked to join the team negotiating a new collective agreement for the proposed joint venture with GE. Initially, GE took the lead in negotiations, and used such heavy-handed tactics that the union broke off talks on the first day. The union’s terms for resuming talks were that Ford Motos take the lead in the negotiations, and I found myself being the chief negotiator, with the support of the Labour Relations Manager. The JV was cancelled before we reached a full agreement, but the Labour Relations Manager later told his Director that he was convinced we would have reached a satisfactory agreement with the way that I was negotiating.

Later, as a director in Maintenance and Engineering (M&E;), I was responsible for hearing grievances at the presidential level from throughout M&E; on behalf of the company President. Although I denied quite a number of grievances, the union only took less than half a dozen to outside arbitration. The Labour Relations department commented that this was an unusually low percentage of decisions sent to arbitration. A union official told me that they accepted my decisions because the reasons were explained so well.