Negotiating Labor/Management Agreements for Competitive Advantage

Prepare for your upcoming labor/management contract negotiation




Gain real-world experience before engaging in labor/management negotiations where the stakes are high and mistakes can be costly. The impact of contract negotiations on the bottom line is lasting, and though they only occur every few years, no company or union can afford to send its negotiation team to the table poorly prepared. Highly effective negotiators add value by crafting agreements that facilitate a positive and productive workplace.

This program features a comprehensive and adaptable framework. It clearly shows how collective bargaining strategies are connected with broader human resources management, operational, and business strategies. This approach ensures that your negotiations are informed and aligned with your organization’s overall goals.

Combining interest-based and classical approaches to negotiations, you will learn about the essential processes and tactical decisions that underlie the key stages of negotiating agreements.

Participants will engage in a simulated exercise built on a case exclusively designed for this program. The exercise will encourage you to resolve complex issues and apply your learned negotiating skills as a member of a team while negotiating a landmark agreement that yields competitive advantage.



  • The Four Stages of Negotiations
    • Planning, Opening, Bargaining, and Closing
  • Analysis, Framing, and Formulation of a Strategic Negotiations Process
    • Compiling and Assessing Business Information
    • Evaluating and Understanding the Dispute Domain
    • Aligning Negotiations with Business Strategy
    • Getting Agreement on Negotiation Strategy and Processes
    • Negotiating in Good Faith Under the Law
  • Negotiation Steps and Processes
    • Structuring Team Make-up and Roles
    • Empowering the Chief Spokesperson
    • Delivering Opening Statements
    • Exchanging Proposals/Demands and Presenting Ideas
    • Evaluating and Costing Proposals
    • Applying the Negotiation Proposal/Counter-Proposal Process
    • Utilizing Interest-Based Problem Solving Methods
    • Reaching Tentative Agreements on Non-Economic Issues
    • Managing Team Caucuses to Stay on Plan
    • Packaging Key Economic Items
    • Narrowing Differences through Effective Side-Bar Meetings
    • Reaching Closure and Making Final Offers
    • Closing, Commitment, and Obtaining Ratification



Certified Labor Relations Professional

Developing the next generation of labor relations professionals

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Certified Labor Relations Leader

Exclusively designed for labor relations managers and leaders

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August 6-8, 2024

Meeting Tuesday through Thursday
8:30am - 4:30pm ET
Live Interactive Program via Zoom




  • All of our classes include strategies to maximize learning and ensure an enjoyable, informative learning experience.

MSU employee discount & education assistance available. Please contact Kristi White at for more information.


Mary A. Bedikian

Mary A. Bedikian, JD, is the former District Vice President, Detroit Region, of the American Arbitration Association, an organization for which she worked for 28 years. Her extensive experience in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) spans many sectors and includes training mediators and arbitrators in both the process and substance of ADR. Ms. Bedikian is an instructor for Administering the Labor Contract, Managing Grievances, and Preparing for Arbitration.

Greg Freehling

Greg Freehling, has developed labor relations expertise during a 30-year career in plant, business, and corporate labor relations roles for Alcoa and its spinoff, Arconic. He retired from corporate life as the Director of Labor Relations for Arconic. He has been teaching with Michigan State University’s School of Human Resources and Labor Relations since 2013, creating and conducting labor relations training programs for the School. He graduated from the program with a Master’s degree in 1990.

As Arconic’s Director of Labor Relations he was accountable for the labor relations function for the corporation. He has led and managed the relationships and efforts required to create successful labor outcomes. In addition to redesign efforts and multiple stand-alone contract negotiations, he and his team also negotiated the master contract between Arconic and the United Steelworkers.

He is a subject matter expert with an extensive background in leading cost improvement initiatives, contract negotiations, managing stakeholder communications, contract administration, as well as grievance and arbitration advocacy. He has negotiated with various unions in the US and Canada, including the United Steelworkers, United Autoworkers, and International Association of Machinists. He has provided training, advice, and counsel across Alcoa and Arconic locations in the US, Canada, and Europe.

He has been affiliated with Michigan State’s School of Human Resources since 2013 as an Adjunct Professor. In this role he has developed and conducted labor relations training programs for labor practitioners and line leaders. These programs include customized programs for specific clients and open enrollment programs for a broader population.

In addition to teaching for the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations, Greg continues to provide consulting expertise and training programs through his consulting firm, Brison Taylor LLC. Its goal is to help organizations looking to improve their labor relations skill sets and operational efficiency.

Joan Hill

Joan Hill, JD, practiced law for 13 years with a small union-side law firm in Southern West Virginia before taking a position in the legal department of the Paper, Allied Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers’ Union in Nashville, Tennessee. She was the Director of Research and Education for PACE and after the merger, remained in the Education Department of the United Steelworkers International Union in both Nashville and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As an educator, she mostly taught legal subjects including ADA, FMLA, labor law, and labor arbitration.

Before retiring in Alabama, Ms. Hill served as the Southern Board Representative for the United Association for Labor Education (UALE) and on the Steering Committee for the Labor and Employment Committee of the National Lawyers’ Guild. Since retirement, Joan has been approved by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Roster of Arbitrators, as a neutral to resolve labor disputes in both the private and public sectors.

Tina M. Riley

Dr. Tina M. Riley, is an Associate Professor in the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations at Michigan State University and served as the School's Director of Professional Development and Associate Director for 20 years.

She is a results-based educator and executive coach with expertise helping individual leaders, and organizations, achieve their full potential through high-impact communications that build trust and promote inclusion and engagement.

Her engaging and holistic approach to teaching facilitates learners' ability to move from theory to practice. Her teaching style makes complex concepts accessible to graduate students and seasoned professionals alike. Dr. Riley teaches academic and professional development classes including leadership and interpersonal skills development, labor relations, developing inclusive workplaces and conducting workplace investigations.

With her passionate and engaging style, Dr. Riley develops and presents customized leadership development programs for both public and private sector organizations, from manufacturing to the courts. Organizational leaders and HR professionals from across the globe including Bahrain, Cameroon, Canada, Georgia, India, and Nigeria report finding her programs to be highly beneficial both for individuals, teams, and organizations.

Dr. Riley holds a Ph.D. in Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education, with a concentration in Communications, and a Master of Labor and Industrial Relations from Michigan State University.

One or more instructors listed above will be teaching


  • Registration closes 2 business days before the start of the program.



  • Cancellation fees may be waived if the participant registers and attends the same program within 12 months. Fees may only be waived once.
  • Participants may send a substitute from the same organization for the same program and date by notifying Kristi White via email at least 5 calendar days in advance of program start date.
  • Cancellation more than 30 calendar days before program start date: full refund.
  • Cancellation 14 – 29 calendar days prior to program start date: 50% cancellation fee, remainder of program fee refunded.
  • Cancellation 13 or fewer calendar days prior to program start date: no refund.

MSU reserves the right to cancel programs when enrollment criteria are not met or for conditions beyond its control. Any additional costs incurred by the enrollee of canceled programs are the responsibility of the enrollee.



  • MSU's Federal ID Number is 38-6005984
  • Business casual attire.
  • Please, no audio or video recording.



This program has been approved for 20 continuing education credit hours towards Professional Development Program recertification.

Learn more about Recertification


Questions? We would be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding this or any of our training programs. Please contact Director of Professional Development, Melanie Zaremba at