One of the country’s largest urban rail transportation systems had experienced years of contentious history with its five labor unions. Most everything either of the parties suggested was rejected or refused by the other side out of sheer spite. Contract talks usually resulted in work stoppages and contract grievances were filed daily. Morale was at an all time low. Management wanted to expand the system to a major airport but the Union wanted available resource to improve current safety and equipment.

Key Issue:

Could the five unions and management form a new culture that would nurture more trustful values, behavior and communication? A culture where the parties could achieve win-win solutions?


Taylor-Nelson conducted a culture audit and took the parties off site to craft a new way of working together. They helped the parties establish a parallel organization that articulated, trained on and disseminated new values and collaboration skills throughout the organization. Labor learned more about management concerns; management learned more about labor concerns.

They called their partnership a Joint Labor Management Committee and signed a three-year agreement to share power, improve communication systems and drive participative management throughout the work force. For the first time, top management and leaders from all five unions worked collaboratively to craft a new future for the organization.

Taylor-Nelson helped with the partnership design, facilitated labor-management meetings, and provided coaching to the various constituencies, trained the parties together, mediated disputes, and helped the parties evaluate and make changes along the way.

As a result, grievances were eliminated, three of the unions elected to use win-win bargaining approaches without any work disruption, and two unions elected to return to conventional bargaining. After five years five unions continue to work collaboratively with management.