AFSCME Local 328
4006 Barbur Blvd, Portland, OR 97239
APPENDIX G Guidelines on Reaching Consensus
Guidelines on Reaching Consensus
Developing a consensus agreement can be an effective way for a work group to modify certain parts of the contract based on their unique way of working together. Section 5.3 defines which sections are appropriate for consensus agreements under this contract.
Process and Timeline for Reaching a Consensus Agreement
A small Consensus Exploration Committee (CEC) should meet and discuss feasibility of developing an agreement. This meeting shall include managers and supervisors, as they will be affected by the agreement. Agreements that modify parts of the contract not listed in Section 5.3 or that are overly-burdensome to administer are not feasible. The following are the CEC’s responsibility:
Develop and implement a communication plan so that everyone directly affected by the agreement can have their interests heard and can participate. The plan should incorporate communication methods established and understood by the work group. Timelines should also be set. Large or multi-location work groups may need to choose representatives, or other participation methods—see “How to Develop Consensus in the Workplace” workbook for ideas.
Identify why the current contract language doesn't meet the needs of the work group.
Discuss interests and brainstorm solutions with the work group, according to the communication plan. Refer to the Consensus Agreement Template for required elements.
After consulting with the work group, create a proposed consensus agreement based on the ideas that best resolve the issues; request help if a facilitator is needed.
When the work group decides that consensus may be reached, test for consensus by putting the proposal out for vote. While it’s important that everyone in the work group can support the proposal, if at least 80% of the work group reach agreement on the proposal then consensus is reached. Remember, supporting may not mean 100% agreement with the proposal.
Finalize the written Consensus Agreement using the template, making sure it includes all the required elements.
If consensus on the agreement is reached the manager or designee is responsible for the following:
Send a copy to your HR business partner and Union staff.
Post where all affected employees can access it.
Provide it to new employees when they join the work group.
Consensus agreements expire at the end of the contract. Remember, the language of the contract may change and all agreements will need to be reviewed. Agreements should be reviewed annually to ensure they meet the needs of the department and employees.
Tips on Reaching Consensus
Encourage participation by all. Make sure you have a good communication plan to communicate with those who are unable to actively participate in the consensus development process.
Be committed to developing a solution that is fair for everyone and meets everyone’s interests as much as possible. Approach the problem with an open mind, not a preconceived solution.
Communicate effectively. Listen actively. Pay attention to others. Ask clarifying questions. Assume good intent. Openly express interests, opinions, feelings, and ideas. Confirm that others understand.
While any individual may disagree with a potential decision, that individual must search for alternatives. If an alternative solution is not forthcoming, the individual who disagrees with the potential decision must reevaluate his or her position in consideration of the goal of reaching agreement on the issue.
Once the solution is reached, all members of the group must be committed to the solution. Even though an individual may not completely agree with the solution, he or she agrees to support it. The involved group collectively agrees that the decision is the best solution for the group at this time. It is important to have realistic expectations, with an understanding that this process will not solve all problems or eliminate conflict.
There are a variety of resources at OHSU to help your work group develop a consensus agreement.
HR business partners and the Union can help facilitate or answer questions.
The Union and Employer are currently developing a repository of sample agreements.
The CWE Center has a variety of helpful courses and can provide workshops for teams. They also have a variety of useful books and other materials available on good negotiations. They can provide:
Interest Based Problem Solving materials
“How to Develop Consensus in the Workplace” workbook
Common Interests list
Consensus Agreement Template
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