Negotiation Extending Beyond Business
The Department of Business Administration and Economics recently gave its majors and minors a chance at a hands-on experience with contract negotiation. The third annual Deal or No Deal: Labor versus Management took place on April 1 between 8:15 a.m. and 3 p.m. 54 students were divided into 18 groups — half represented workers and half represented managerial staff. The participating students were all taking upper level business courses.
Senior accounting and math major James Zeitler took on the role of a manager for this event. He said the goal was to negotiate a contract that satisfied both parties. He intended on being stern and holding his footing to accomplish his objectives. Sophomore accounting major Timothy Lacy was on the opposite side of the table as a worker. His intent was to make the contract more balanced so both sides would be equal. Although the two students had different aims, they did agree that this event would be helpful for their post-college lives. “Negotiation meetings happen all the time,” Zeitler said. “Headed towards where I want to go, I want to work in a bigger business someday, so this is just more experience for me…” His goals after graduation include eventually becoming a financial assistant. Lacy applied negotiation to life in general instead of a specific career path. “If I’m actually going for a job and this is for an interview and they hand me the contract and I disagree with something, I’m gonna obviously negotiate that,” he said.
Business agents from Teamsters 525 and 916 Brett Wessel and Dave Robinson attended the event to give students a professional perspective. They work for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters whose mission is to “organize and educate workers towards a higher standard of living.” This was Wessel’s first year attending and he believed it was a great way to educate students about real life situations and unions. Robinson further explained how this tied back to actual circumstances. “You negotiate everything from buying a house, buying a car, your insurance rates…” he said. “It makes you look at numbers a lot harder.” He added it’s all about achieving your bottom line.
Professor of marketing and business management Dr. Christina Langwell McCurley and Chair of the Business and Economics Department professor Robert Schweikle reviewed the students’ finalized contracts. “Each year, we’ve tried to make changes based on what we thought were the strengths and weaknesses,” Schweikle said. “It’s like no matter how well you spread it, there’s always gonna be a few unknowns rearing their ugly head.” With each passing year, he acknowledged that the participants preparedness has been better. Both professors have given the students assignments within their classes to help them. McCurley believed this event helps create an understanding of how a wage increase or health insurance impacts both a business and their workers. Ultimately, they hope students use Deal or No Deal: Labor versus Management as an opportunity to apply the information they’ve learned in classes to potential scenarios they may face.