Joint training to help improve labor-management relations Published Nov. 20, 2009 By Kendahl Johnson 78 ABW/PA ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The Warner Robins Air Logistics Center will soon provide joint training opportunities for managers and employees in an effort to give the two groups additional tools for resolving workplace disputes. The training, which focuses on communication, team building and the "necessity of changing paradigms," is unique because it doesn't focus on just supervisors and managers or just employees, but unites the two groups together. "These training sessions will help managers and employees build better relationships," said Ashley Hightower, a labor relations specialist in the Directorate of Personnel. "They will help them better understand their roles and responsibilities, and will give them the tools they need to resolve issues more effectively." This concept of joint training will help the WR-ALC reach its overall goal of fostering trust, confidence and respect through positive labor and management relationships, one of the Center's five key initiatives, she said. Hightower is excited about the new training program, but realizes there may be some apprehension by potential participants. "Anytime you introduce a program or a concept that forces people to re-evaluate their personal views or that may be contrary to their standard way of doing things, of conducting business, you are going to get some push back," she said. She said once people realize that the training will help them be better equipped to handle difficult situations that may arise in the work area, they will be more eager to participate. "When a supervisor or a steward is dealing with a distraught employee, a sexual harassment allegation, or a racially-charged situation, it should not be the first time that supervisor has been put in that situation," Hightower said. "The training will prepare them to deal with these situations." Jeanette McIlhaney, the elected treasurer for the 987 AFGE, is representing the local Union's interests in the joint training. She said she has positive expectations and views the training as an opportunity to help build respect and promote honest and open communication between labor and management. "I believe it's going to be effective in helping the two groups have a greater respect for each other," she said. "When you have both groups meeting together side by side - getting trained at the same time and receiving the same information together - it can only have a positive outcome." Leadership is hoping to begin the joint training sessions in January, beginning initially with a targeted group of employees in the 402nd Maintenance Wing. Eventually, sessions will be created and customized to accommodate units from across the ALC, with a target of 20-25 individuals per class.