Yesterday, I had collective bargaining for EMS workers over a contract the union approved but the workers refused to ratify. That is a sticky situation and I had to put on a performance of outrage that even had my client concerned. It looks like all will come together, and with a few tweaks we can present the deal to the workers.

Today, I had collective bargaining with two unions over workers in ready-mix concrete. (Man, I love me a mixer truck. When I was in school, I worked on the maintenance crew at a ready mix plant and I really loved that job.)

The negotiations have been difficult. We have been really far apart on money, and this union negotiator is the best I have seen in a long time. I can’t get a good read on what is driving him, which is unusual for me. Honestly, most of the union negotiators I see are ham-handed idiots who should probably let the workers do their own deal. The other union negotiator is green as hell and telegraphs everything I need to know.

This type of negotiation is fascinating work, and I really enjoy it. It is so much better than litigation, which is just bullshit and lawyers jerking each other off. We made a ton of progress today, which was really cool, because this is a new client, and one who has been frustrated by the glacial movement. I tried a few things that worked perfectly, and accurately predicted a few movements by the other side (which gives the client confidence that I am not full of shit.)

The coolest thing about this work is that you aren’t trying to destroy the other side, you are trying to get a good deal, but not at the expense of labor peace and not at the expense of your credibility with the union. I think we have a good chance of wrapping this up at the next meeting.

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I was exhausted when it was over, but I got a call from a client who manages vineyards in Napa. We have been dealing with a worker who is trying to change her documentation, which is a sensitive issue these days. They had followed up with her, and she brought them documents they had never seen, which they emailed me today, because they did not know if they could employ her, and risk is high for ag these days.

This lady is a domestic violence victim, and is undocumented. Some smart prosecutor and/or service organization got her a “U” visa - granting the right to remain in the US and work so that she can testify and help the prosecution. Most important, U Visa allows her to apply for adjustment of status without having to return to Mexico. I told them her documents were good, and to tell her to go back to work.

The very best part of my job is when I get to save someone else’s job.