Workplace seminar bringing labor unions and management together

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HARRIS – Management and labor union officials came together for a workplace seminar.

The 48th annual conference, coordinated by the U.P. Labor Management Council, is all about building a relationship between the two.

“It’s bringing management and labor together,” said Carolyn Hietamaki, Treasurer of the U.P. Labor Management Council. “Usually in an environment of a workplace, that doesn’t happen all the time. With this conference, over the years, people are working together. We have the Federal Mediation Conciliation Service here and they’re helping in different areas. They can do public or private if asked and I think the important part is that you learn to trust.”

And that trust is important for a healthy work environment. Being the conference’s 48th year, plenty of change has happened through the years.

“Well you think about the Right to Work in Michigan has changed things but people still are working through those issues,” said Hietamaki. “Health care has changed, very severely, and there are different things there. So you don’t always negotiate the same things all the time now because it’s not the same way.”

The U.P. Labor Management Council is well known for visiting high schools to teach students about bargaining. The United Steelworkers Local 221 presented a check for more than $15,000 to the UPLMC as a token of appreciation.

“That’s probably one of our most passionate things is that they go out into the high schools and do training for them to bargain,” said Stephen Benoit, President of the United Steelworkers Local 221 in Escanaba. “We bargain everyday, right? With our families, high school students do it with their parents, we do it all the time so it’s good experience for them to get out there and learn what we’re doing between management and labor unions.”

The group says they hope the money will go towards scholarships and teaching.

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