Home » 28-4 ( 1973) » Évaluation des coûts-avantages de la négociation collective et banque d’expérience en relation de travail

Évaluation des coûts-avantages de la négociation collective et banque d’expérience en relation de travail

Félix Quinet

Résumé

Après avoir énoncé les motifs qui militent en faveur d'une évaluation des coûts-avantages de la négociation collective, l’auteur propose la création d'une Banque de données, explique ce qu'elle devrait contenir et indique les usages que l'on pourrait en faire.

Abstract

Cost-Benefit Analysis, and Experience Banks in Labour and Staff Relations

INTRODUCTION

In the context of this topic, we will concentrate our discussion on wages, salaries, labour costs and expenditures and related conditions. This is not to say that the possible implementation of the processes we will be discussing in this paper could not be explored to cover other forms of costs and expenditures as well.

Here are the reasons which brought us to such a discussion. As readers may note, they are far from following out of a highly integrated or logical order.

First, we share with many a concern for the ability of our industry and of our economy as a whole to compete and to expand in a world where our trading partners and friends are certainly not on the increase, if however the word « friends » can ever be used in the context of world trade. In the context of the concern just expressed, we are with many others, anxious to learn more about the impact of the collective bargaining system on our industry and public services ; for it is felt that through the knowledge of that impact, the system could be strenghtened so as perhaps to play a fuller role within the economy ; more specifically, we feel that we ought to know more not only about the total costs of collective bargaining but also about thebenefits that collective bargaining generates for industry, the economy and society as a whole ; we feel, therefore, that costing and cost-benefit analysis of the bargaining process is a function that could well serve our economic performance in total.

Secondly, we also share a concern with many, that the institution of collective bargaining is too often functioning today in a context of public hostility ; an hostility, often understandable, although not always justified, which could be detrimental to the normal functioning and development of the institution ; it is suggested here that the release of data, in appropriate form, on the impact of collective bargaining, in terms of benefits as well as costs, could assist in rehabilitating the institution in the eyes of many.

Thirdly, we deplore what we view as excessive introversion on the part of too many members of our collective bargaining research community, including the author of this article, with regard to the institution itself. It is our belief that we tend too often to study collective bargaining for collective bargaining sake, and we often fail to sufficiently concern ourselves with and to study the wider impact, in both cost and benefit terms, of some collective bargaining decisions. What is meant particularly here is that too often, insufficient attention is, in our view, paid to the wider potential use that could be made of procedures and mechanisms generated through collective bargaining.

At the risk of oversimplifying, we consider that a labour-management experiment on which a favourable cost-benefit tag could be placed could perhaps be more easily exported, either in total or in part, into a non-labour relations context, where it might prove to be highly useful. For instance, the success of a joint union-management employee development program, success that can be shown through a very favourable assessment from a cost-benefit angle, may increase the chances of this program of being tried in other contexts than that of labour relations.

Fourthly, we suggest that collective bargaining costing may well lead to the repeated discovery of a phenomenon that has been long considered more or less as the private domain of « idealists » and « dreamers », and that is that a reduction in costs for employers could be, more often than suspected, coupled with increased well-being for employees.

Fifthly, we believe that the collective bargaining system in the Federal Public Service, because of the lesser competitive context within which it operates, could perhaps, within acceptable and feasible limits, offer for wider assessment the experience, expressed in appropriate cost and benefit terms, that its implementation has generated. We would consider that such exposure, if possible, of the Federal Public Service collective bargaining system and of its results to the wider collective bargaining community could well serve the public interest.

Sixthly, another of our reasons for being happy to discuss our topic, is of course that our Pay Research Bureau has certainly played for many years a pioneering role in developing information on a wide range of fringe benefit expenditures as well as on their incidence and characteristics. Incidentally, may we also mention the currently developed Pay Research Bureau program of AUTOCODS, which, using computer facilities, is aimed at producing wage and salary information on a current basis. What might also be considered is the feasibility of applying similar techniques to the collection and presentation of fringe benefit information so as to facilitate the analysis of the «  total compensation package ». Such data — gathering effort would certainly be of relevance in any costing, or cost-benefit analysis effort.

Seventhly, it is also felt that the costing and cost-benefit analysis of collective bargaining may assist in due time in the development of banks of information relating to labour relations' experiences. In referring to these new types of banks, the expression « Experience banks » is used so as to make the distinction between these and the already existing and well functioning « Data Banks » on the contents of collective agreement provisions.

At this very early stage of our article, we hope to be forgiven if we point out that our discussion of the possible establishment of collective bargaining experience banks is based in part on our reading of a book by a leading French Medical Doctor deploring the harmful effects that the lack of proper medical experience information could have, in certain instances, on the outcome of medical treatment 1. I shall quote a couple of paragraphs from that book : ... I have... seen patients die who could have been cured if sufficient information would have been provided, through the reading of an article lost in one of the thousands specialized medical journals which are published every month in the world, regarding the manner in which the fatal accident could be avoided »2. (Translation)

We certainly do not wish to dramatize, but can we be accused of undue exageration in suggesting that in the field of labour relations perhaps many a conciliator, mediator, industriel relations manager, arbitrator, or union negotiator, or union management negotiators jointly, in whatever jurisdiction, may have been justified at one time or another of their involvement in saying : « We could have succeeded in solving certain disputes much faster, and in preventing certain situations from deteriorating, had we had knowledge of successful solutions previously brought to similar problems elsewhere ». Of course, not any more than medical experience banks would, or are preventing people from getting sick, would experience banks in labour relations solve all problems, but it is suggested here that they could be of assistance. And to the extent that cost data provide information as to the workings of collective bargaining policies and practices, collective bargaining costing and cost-benefit analysis, will be instrumental in the setting up of those experience banks to which reference has just been made.

Although we do not wish to overstress the point, we cannot resist to the enjoyment of drawing a parallel between another quotation from the book we just referred to, and the field of labour relations. In referring to information that could be stored in medical experience banks, the author of the book, Dr. Hamburger, writes : « The computer will not only respond to directives such as : could you list all the possible causes of convulsions in pregnant women ? Or what is the optimum dose of « chloramphinicol » for a child of 10 years who suffers from typhoid fever ? The computer will also respond, provided it has been well conditioned, to questions such as : what is the likelihood for a pregnant woman who has contracted german measles 85 days after the date of her latest menstruation to give birth to a malformed child ? » 3.

For the enjoyment of the readers we would leave it up to them to raise similar questions pertaining to labour relations problems the solution of which could be made easier through stored experience information. We might perhapsraise a few questions on my own : is it lacking in realism to suggest that stored labour relations experienced information could provide meaningful information to the following queries — which could of course be made more specific : « What is the most frequent, or typical, response of younger employees — between the ages of 20 and 25 — to training requirements when subjected to a training provision which does provide that in exchange for receiving training, they shall quarantee service to the company for a period of time of no less than two years ? » « What are the problems, if any, encountered when employees promoted to a position of foreman outside the bargaining unit, but not successfully completing their probationary period in the new job, are returned to their former jobs with full seniority rights ? » « What is the attitude of unskilled employees between the age of 40 and 50, towards a skill upgrading program involving a required submission to tests ? » « What are typical career paths, if any, followed by employees after having gone through the adjudication process involving matters of discipline ? » Such questions could of course be made to apply specifically to either professional or non-professional employees.

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING COSTING

Some Prerequisites of Costing

At the outset, we would like to very briefly refer to the prerequisites of costing collective bargaining settlements and results. As we have already dealt at some length with these prerequisites in a previous document4, we shall deal with them very quickly at this time. Research conducted in currently existing costing methodologies has clearly indicated that good and reliable costing implies a thorough knowledge of the contents of collective agreements ; that if costing is to be usefully done on a broad basis, that is in the context of an industry or in a wider context than industry, a standard methodology and terminology is in need of development so that costs are identified in the same manner and are assembled in roughly the same way. It also appears that if the costing function is to be further developed, more contacts ought to take place between costing experts in our industries so that gradually a more common approach to costing might emerge. Let me emphasize here that we were, in doing our own costing research, much impressed with the high degree of professional competence of the costing experts we were privileged to meet ; however, what we seemed also to perceive — we might be wrong — is that these costing experts tended to operate in a context of isolation and did not seem to have frequent opportunities to offer the benefit of their experience to their colleagues, and neither had they frequent opportunities to benefit from their colleagues' experience. At any rate, there is, in our view, in the field of costing, considerable talent that could perhaps be used in the pursuit of broader research objectives. We should also add here that on a previous occasion, we had called for a broadly-based seminar of costing experts for the specific purpose of developing a more standardized costing methodology.

QUALITATIVE ASPECTS OF THE COSTING FUNCTION

If costing has certain prerequisites, it has also what we view as an exciting side. For, if costing is to be meaningful, it should cover all measurable items of collective bargaining clauses, settlements and practices. And if collective bargaining benefits and clauses are introduced in labour contracts to respond to different aspirations, needs and requirements of employees and of management, it is submitted here that the expenditures that can be traced to the implementation of these various clauses and provisions can be subjected to some kind ofqualitative evaluation. On a previous occasion, we had wondered whether expenditures on overtime could be looked at in the same way as expenditures on retraining provisions ; whether expenditures on increased night shift premiums could be approached in the same manner as expenditures on provisions designed to assist in combating the pollution gradually invading some work environments.

At this time, could we phrase a similar question in more down-to-earth terms, from a qualitative standpoint : is a million dollars spent on overtime equal in every respect to a million dollars spent on retraining or in combating pollution in the work environment ? What is simply suggested here is that an examination of certain expenditures under collective bargaining, as part of the total costing effort, inevitably covers built-in wider social concerns. Such cost examination, therefore, may well pave the way for an assessment of the social contribution made by collective bargaining in meeting these broader concerns, in the instances just cited, the social concern for the protection of the environment and for the training of the labour force.

The costing of total expenditures under collective bargaining raises other important questions : for example, determining the extent to which certain benefits to employees are, in addition to being benefits per se, a form of additional or indirect income to employees. Paid safety shoes, paid rain-coats, paid uniforms, paid safety glasses may be considered as a form of indirect income but again hère, we perhaps should not restrict ourselves to look at the costs of such benefits, but also at the contributions that thèse may make as incentives to better work practices and even better work morale and productivity. What is simply suggested here is that costing almost naturally leads, in certain areas of the collective agreement at least, to an assessment of the benefits that are built-in certain costs. One could almost argue that the cost-benefit analysis of collective bargaining is, in a sense, the natural, although not illegitimate, offspring of costing per se.

Direct, Indirect and Impact Costs of Collective Bargaining

An analysis of the verynature of the costs incurred as a result of collective bargaining is also of practical interest5. Costing experts — at least those I was privileged to consult — usually make the distinction betweendirect costs of settlements andimpact costs of settlements. For example, the direct cost of awage increase is the increase in wage payments resulting from it ; one of the impact costs of such wage increase is the increase in vacation costs that result from it ; for example, the impact cost resulting from four weeks' paid vacation which must be paid at an increased straight-time rate, as a result of the wage settlement. Although the line is not always clear — at least to us— between what anindirect cost is and what an impact cost is, distinctions are made between the impact costs of the type we have just referred to and indirect costs that, for example, would be incurred if, as a result of the negotiation of a specific collective agreement provision, specialized staff of one kind or another had to be hired by the employer to implement the new provision. For example, industrial engineers might have to be hired following the negotiation of a clause providing for the systematic evaluation of jobs and duties ; or more nurses might have to be hired, so that first aid could be provided, if necessary, on the night shift as well as on the day shift.

For Discussion : Factors that Might Affect the Costing Function

The latter considerations do suggest that the process of costing cannot be divorced from the industrial or economic environment within which it is conducted. We do not feel that extensive discussions are required to demonstrate that in addition to varying direct bargaining and settlement costs, indirect and impact bargaining costs are also bound to vary from one environment to another. Perhaps one example will suffice here : in an industry where the operation is continuous, the granting of an additional paid statutory holiday may well result in additional costs due not only to the additional holiday but also due to the fact that the plant, having to be kept operating on a 24-hours basis, seven days a week, employees might then have to be kept working on that extra paid holiday at overtime rates, in addition to their holiday pay. On the other hand, an extra paid holiday for teachers might present no cost problem of any significance in certain cases, since that cost might be absorbed through the rescheduling of classes.

From our research post, we can only offer some further speculations for the consideration of readers regarding the varying degree of motivation that might inspire costing efforts. Some of the following considerations might not always totally reflect realities, and some readers, closer to the matters we will be raisin g in this section of the article could have some comments.

A given organization where labour costs represent a small proportion of total production costs might be under less pressure to undertake the thorough costing of its labour settlements than a firm where labour costs do indeed represent a high proportion of total costs. In addition to these internal factors, external factors, that is factors external to the organization, may have an impact on costing requirements. Persistently buoyant market conditions may not act as a particularly strong incentive to conduct costing on a comprehensive basis.

Increased competition, on the other hand, may be an incentive to introduce or to perfect a comprehensive cost assessment method. On the contrary, from thestrong position or even dominant position of an organization in a given market a fuller recognition of the costing need might only slowly, if not painfully, develop 6.

In addition to factors — such as those just outlined — that could conceivably play a part in determining the rank occupied by the costing function in the order of administrative priorities of a given organization, considerations such as the need to protect the competitive position of a given firm could conceivably place costing and cost-benefit information in the sensitive data package that is not to be circulated.

The Development of Collective Bargaining Experience Information

Whatever the case may be, we feel however justified in suggesting that in the field of labour relations today — as in some fields of medicine, as is discussed in the book to which reference was made earlier — a number of positive collective bargaining experiments -— on which incidentally, favourable cost-benefit tags might perhaps be placed — might never be brought to the attention of the very organizations which might derive much benefit from them.

What has just been observed is based on an assumption — which the research we have conducted so far has not invalidated — that in many a collective bargaining experiment there may be elements of wide relevance and therefore of wide potential application into labour relations and occupational contexts that may have little in common with the context within which the experiment initially took place.

And perhaps one of the grinding yet challenging tasks facing labour relations researchers today is to thoroughly explore the ways in which an impartially set up experience information network might be developed, network that would make it possible for the largest possible number of organizations in all jurisdictions — on both the employee and management side, and perhaps even most important in the third-party area — to have access to experience information. The development of such experience information would of course involve the assessment of positive, and less than positive, experiments and provisions, since there may be equal benefit in knowing the reasons why certain things failed, as in knowing why others succeeded. Hopefully, such experience information could be researched, processed, presented and constantlyupdated in such a manner as to minimize the restrictions that might be placed on its availability as a result of some of the factors discussed earlier in this paper ; in so doing the number of instances might be minimized where otherwise broadly useful information might have to be kept buried in packages of sensitive and highly restricted data.

Operational Contexts of Costing

Returning to more practical considerations, one has to envisage very briefly the several contexts within which costing can be conducted. Costing can be conducted strictly within the context of the bargaining unit. Within that context, it might be noted that the full costing of a given provision of the collectiveagreement may have to be done at least in part by assessing and measuring the costs incurred under another clause7. For example, some of the costs resulting from a closed shop provision requiring the employer to hire union members only and, thereby, possibly limiting the labour supply, might have to be assessed through an examination of expenditures under the overtime provision in view of the fact that the limited number of available employees might have to work a substantial number of overtime hours in order to meet production requirements.

Also, high overtime costs indicating a frequent recourse to overtime work, might, in certain contexts, be related to high turnover costs since frequent overtime may be a factor encouraging employees to look for employment where the work is performed within a more regular schedule.

From a broader methodological standpoint, we might stress that a bargaining cost-analysis conducted on a clause to clause basis might present incomplete and even misleading information regarding the cost impact of certain provisions in view of the fact that such cost impact may have to be measured through expenditures under a variety of other provisions as well 8.

Suggested Potential Uses of Costing

The costs of collective bargaining can of course also be traced in contexts wider than that of the bargaining unit per se. We need not draw attention to the obvious impact that a wage increase for unionized employees can have for unorganized personnel in the same firm or plant. And of course collective bargaining settlements may have a cost impact extending into unorganized firms where the law of supply and demand for certain types of occupations may require that the same wage rates be paid to unorganized employees as those paid to unionized employees.

We have in a previous paper discussed some of the uses that can be made of costing in a broader context than collective bargaining per se9. But there is perhaps one function that we did not discuss and that we would submit for the consideration of readers ; it is the predictive function of costing not in terms of predicting the costs that will be incurred as a result of settlements but in terms of providing indications and signs that problems and storms may be ahead in a given bargaining unit, in other words, providing « storm signals » 10.

For example, an analysis of expenditures under certain types of provisions, such as the grievance procedure, can reveal a deteriorating working climate in the plant. Mounting costs due to turnover, absenteism can likewise reveal, or confirm, in a tangible manner, a lack of organizational response to employees' needs 11. In that predictive sense, one should not exclude situations where costing under collective bargaining can provide the much needed additional evidence which will confirm what has been observed at the broader societal level. Obviously, developing social disorders can have an impact on expenditures incurred under specific clauses of the labour contract12. In that sense, collective bargaining cost analysis may be a tool supporting broader social analysis.

Costing can also be an appropriate tool for the measurement of the increasing obsolescence, or use, of a specific clause, to the extent that the volume of expenditures incurred under the provision being examined constitutes a reliable indicator of the degree of its actual implementation.

COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

Perhaps, we should now turn more specifically to the benefit side of collective bargaining. It should also be pointed out that our approach, at this time, to cost-benefit analysis is very pragmatic. For the purpose of this article, what we view as benefits to organizations derived from bargaining practices, are decreases in costs, or the avoidance of costs, that would have otherwise been incurred had certain provisions not existed, or had existing provisions not been modified, or had existing provisions not been dropped.

At the outset, it must be recognized that cost-benefit analysis — as costing — is at times impractical or even impossible to conduct in strictly monetary terms 13. It is, for instance, difficult to undertake the strict cost-benefit analysis of seniority provisions which, on the one hand, through their ability requirements, respond to operational and efficiency needs, and, on the other hand, through therecognition of length of service, can be said to respond to more welfare-oriented considerations. We hasten to add that a proper cost-benefit approach, which in this case might only mean a balanced approach, does not necessarily mean that the costs to employers result from the recognition of length of service for there can also be benefits to employers as well as to employees through that recognition of service ; as there can also be benefits to both employees and employers through the ability requirements contained in the provision.

As is the case of the costing function, cost-benefit analysis can also be conducted in a variety of contexts. But in the case of cost-benefit analysis, it would seem to me that the requirement to undertake it in as broad a context as possible seems to be even more imperative than in the case of costing ; we would hope that the following observations would illustrate that statement.

Cost-benefit analysis conducted in the context of the bargaining unit can reveal that the introduction of certain provisions can lead to increased expenditures through their direct implementation, while reducing costs under certain types of other provisions. For instance, in referring to an example of a case that we have already discussed, in another seminar14, a grievance committee could involve costs to the employers in terms of the paid time that might have to be provided to those employees who will serve on the committee in order to investigate grounds for potential grievances, and to examine actual grievances and process them. Tt also involves additional costs to the employer in view of the fact that the employees serving on the grievance committee might have to be replaced by other employees to carry out duties normally performed by those serve on the committee. However, such grievance committee might, over a period of time, lead to a decrease in expenditures under provisions such as paid rest periods, paid wash-up time that might have been excessively used and unduly prolonged by employees as a way of protesting against a mounting backlog of unprocessed and unexamined grievances. Of course, the establishment of the grievance committee might also lead to a decrease in other expenditures that could not be traced to any one provision of the labour contract, indeed if they could be measured and traced at all.

Suggested Uses of Cost-benefit Analysis in Contexts Broader Than the Bargaining Unit

As in the case of costing, cost-benefit analysis can be conducted in contexts broader than of the bargaining unit. The cost-benefit analysis exercise, for example, can assist in throwing factual light on the successful side of experiences and experiments that have taken place as a result of collective bargaining in the organized segment of a firm, and at least could be tested and applied in the non-unionized sector of the organization. The implementation of certain elements of training provisions, of grievance handling clauses might conceivably have positive value for both management, and unorganized personnel.

We would venture to suggest incidentally, that the cost-benefit analysis of collective bargaining within certain organizations might lead to the development of an understanding of the collective bargaining process not necessarily concern-traded in the industrial relations department of an organization. That perhaps more evenly spread understanding of the collective bargaining process, in the light of its assessed benefits as well as of its costs, could well be one of the factors generating a broad managerial approach to the problems faced by a firm, which might mean that industrial relations personnel might be, at an early stage, associated with, for instance, operational decision-making having a manpower impact.

We suggest that the cost-benefit analysis function may have broad potential use. A cost-benefit analysis of certain collective bargaining practices might facilitate the introduction of certain types of legislation, some elements of which might formalize what was previously provided for under clauses of collective agreements

Cost-benefit Analysis : Some Other Suggested Areas for Possible Experimentation

The cost-benefit approach might be tested on a number of provisions of collective agreements15; among these might be certain types of technological change provisions, on which some form of cost-benefit assessment might be experimented. Is it lacking in realism to suggest that provisions for advance notice in case of technological change might, — at least in certain contexts — by reducing the depressing effect of uncontrolled rumors regarding impending changes in technology, have a positive impact on work performance and work attitude ?

More generally, it can be argued that the cost-benefit analysis function may generate a better and deeper appreciation of the values as well as of the short-comings of the collective bargaining process. (In view of the current widespread emphasis on the short-comings of collective bargaining, we hope to be forgiven if we tend to emphasize the benefits derived from the institution, at this time.)

Equal pay, equal work provisions can generate additional costs to the extent that they may bring about wage and salary increases so as to bring certain salary and wage rates in line with those paid for jobs involving the same functions and duties ; but in terms of benefits, such provisions can also bring about a fuller utilization of talent in groups of employees who may gain easier access to a wider range of jobs and occupations, — whether such employees gaining such easier access are females in a predominantly male environment, or males in a predominantly female environment.

It might not be unrealistic to assume that certain provisions, that do represent costs, but that improve the morale and work attitude of unionized personnel canenrich and upgrade both the status and output of the supervisory function, thereby reducing costs associated with a relatively high turnover and/or low output of supervisory personnel finding neither challenge nor interest in the direction of an unmotivated and unresponsive work force.

Another example. The cost-benefit analysis of a negotiated and intelligently implemented skill upgrading plan could produce highly favourable results in terms of benefits to both employer and employees to the extent that such plan, by literally exhuming the previously undiscovered and therefore dormant skills in certain employees, might reduce the costs that might have otherwise been incurred if the required skilled personnel had to be hired from the outside, and gradually familiarized with the operations of the plant.

The following and last example may also be offered for consideration. A work and employment guarantee clause, which might prove costly to the employer, might of course be expected to be beneficial to the employees it covers, and the further question can be raised as to whether or not social costs might not be avoided through a clause of that sort : for the absence of that work guarantee provision might have generated social costs in terms of payment of unemployment insurance benefits to workers who might have had to be laid off had the provision not been negotiated. On the other hand, such provision, to the extent that it involved recognition of seniority, might also prevent, or delay, the employment of younger and perhaps better trained workers, thereby leading to social costs.

CONCLUSION

We shall now conclude, our purpose in presenting this article was, at this time, to stimulate thought and discussion on the need, obvious and even pressing in our view, to research the ways in which labour relations experience banks might be established, and the ways in which the labour relations costing function might be assessed not only as one of the tools that might be used for the development of such experience banks but also as a process strengthening both the institution of collective bargaining and the contributions it is making to our socio-economic performance. Of equal importance at this stage is that those with experience in this field should seek ways of communicating their knowledge to others. It is, after all, only through such communication that the collective bargaining process in its totality will develop and progress.

We earnestly hope that our labour and staff relations research community — in all jurisdictions — will find time and resources to devote to that research effort, which could well serve not only the institution of collective bargaining but the public interest as well.

* I wish to acknowledge the valuable and much appreciated encouragement I have received in undertaking my research work in the costing and related areas, from Mr. J. Finkelman, Chairman, Mr. George E. Gauthier, Vice-Chairman, Public Service Staff Relations Board, and from Mr. T.J. Wilkins, Director of the Pay Research Bureau. However, the observations contained in this article are strictly Personal in nature and are not to be taken as a reflection of the views that may be held by these Officers, nor can they be considered as reflecting the official views of the Pay Research Bureau and of the Public Service Staff Relations Board.

1 Jean HAMBURGER,La puissance et la fragilité, essai sur les métamorphoses de la médecine et de l'homme, Paris, Flammarion, 1972.

2Ibid., p. 87.

3Ibid., p. 92.

4See our earlier paper on:Settlement and Agreement Costing : Some Technical Aspects and Some Suggested Ultimate Objectives. On request, we will be pleased to provide copies of this paper to interested readers.

5 We have prepared settlement and agreement costing documents; on request, we will be pleased to provide copies of these.

6 As we are here dealing with variables, we would simply add, in footnote form, that combinations of such variables could further affect, in one way or another, motivations to engage in bargaining costing: for example, strong competitive context added to high labour costs might make reasons for costing, even more imperative.

7This need for measuring the impact costs, as well as the direct costs resulting from the implementation of certain clauses, is one illustration of the need for a method of cost reporting which would be sufficiently detailed so as to permit the examination of expenditures under as many individual provisions as possible.

8 In fact, the same danger of producing inadequate or incomplete information does also exist in the analysis of collective agreement provisions where some provisions, in order to be correctly assessed, must be analysed in relation to other provisions of the agreement.

9 See our paper on:Settlement and Agreement Costing: Some Technical Aspects and Some Suggested Ultimate Objectives.

10 We should mention here that our first acquaintance with the expression « storm signals » dates back to 1967, when we read a very interesting article entitled « After the race war, a blueprint for peace », published in theToronto Daily Star of August 5, 1967, by Professor Moynihan, in which the author explained among other things, how «  storm signals » — exprqssed in statistical terms — had developed well in advance of the outbreak of the 1967 Detroit riots; in the article, the author also suggested that these signals, if properly studied, might have been helpful in at least foreseeing the possibility of violent outbreak. In reexamining the article recently, we simply wondered whether some form of « storm signals » could not be developed, with costing support, in the context of collective bargaining.

11 Costing could also be viewed as a useful tool in assessing thedegree of coherence of certain collective bargaining policies, in terms of their cost implications: for example, the successful introduction of a given collective agreement provision designed to decrease costs and achieving its purpose, might result in considerable increases in expenditures under other clauses of the agreement. It might be further noted that the decrease in costs might be/ immediately measured, while the increase in expenditures might only be assessed after a period of time; which leads to a more general observation: and that is that bargaining cost examination can be conducted in a context of immediate cost decreases and long-term cost increases, or immediate cost increases and long-term cost decreases. (Training provisions might be an instance of the latter context.)

12 For example, unsafe urban conditions, over which the parties to collective bargaining have no control, can lead to increased costs to employers: a case in point is, in some cities, the provision, described as highly desirable, of transportation to certain employees working on the evening shift, so they can reach home safely.

13 Disgressing somewhat, one could almost argue that, in some instances, the cost-benefit approach is nothing more, and cannot be anything more, than the result of a more or less intuitive notion that costs invested in certain ventures are bound to ensure some returns of one kind or another to employers and employees. When, for example, a corporation organizes a « family day » for the purpose of offering to its employees' families the opportunity of touring the new work site of a modernized operation, some kind of returns can be quite legitimately expected from such planned event, although such returns may be very difficult to assess.

14 See our earlier paper:Settlement and Agreement Costing: Some Technical Aspects and Some Suggested Ultimate Objectives.

15 If is doubtful as to whether each of the following instances could ever lead to cost-benefit assessments expressed in dollars and cents but short of producing precise calculations, such cost-benefit assessment has the merit of generating a balanced approach to bargaining.