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Background of the PATCO vs. FAA Dispute

Barry is a 27-year old who is a foodservice manager at a casual dining restaurant. Barry is responsible for supervising and managing all employees in the back of the house. Employees working in the back of the house range in age from 16 years old to 55 years old. In addition, the employees come from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. For many, English is not their primary language.

Barry is ServSafe® certified and tries his best to keep up with food safety issues in the kitchen but he admits it’s not easy. Employees receive “on the job training” about food safety basics (for example, appropriate hygiene and hand washing, time/temperature, and cleaning and sanitizing). But with high turnover of employees, training is often rushed and some new employees are put right into the job without training if it is a busy day. Eventually, most employees get some kind of food safety training. The owners of the restaurant are supportive of Barry in his food safety efforts because they know if a food safety outbreak were ever linked to their restaurant; it would likely put them out of business. Still, the owners note there are additional costs for training and making sure food is handled safely.

One day Barry comes to work and is rather upset even before he steps into the restaurant. Things haven’t been going well at home and he was lucky to rummage through some of the dirty laundry and find a relatively clean outfit to wear for work. He admits he needs a haircut and a good hand scrubbing, especially after working on his car last evening. When he walks into the kitchen he notices several trays of uncooked meat sitting out in the kitchen area. It appears these have been sitting at room temperature for quite some time. Barry is frustrated and doesn’t know what to do. He feels like he is beating his head against a brick wall when it comes to getting employees to practice food safety.

Barry has taken many efforts to get employees to be safe in how they handle food. He has huge signs posted all over the kitchen with these words: KEEP HOT FOOD HOT AND COLD FOOD COLD and WASH YOUR HANDS ALWAYS AND OFTEN. All employees are given a thermometer when they start so that they can temp food. Hand sinks, soap, and paper towels are available for employees so that they are encouraged to wash their hands frequently.

  1. What are the communication challenges and barriers Barry faces?
  2. What solutions might Barry consider in addressing each of these challenges and barriers?
  3. What Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) would be helpful for Barry to implement and enforce?
  4. What are some ways Barry might use effective communication as a motivator for employees to follow safe food handling practices?
Background of the PATCO vs. FAA Dispute

The case study is a classic example of a scenario where it becomes difficult and highly subjective to find what is fair and what is ethical. As it is a known fact that what is fair might not be ethical and vice versa. Thus, the same holds true in the case of Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) and Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) in the US. In the context here, PATCO went on strike against the FAA because the later denied the request of PATCO to amend the terms of contract, thus as a last resort they had to go on strike. FAA took a serious action against the union members which are as follows:

  • All striking controllers were immediately fired from their respective jobs.
  • A federal injunction was obtained against the union, and the union and its leaders were filed with millions of dollars.
  • Some of the important members in the strike such as Poli were straight away put into the Prison.
  • The financial accounts of the union were impounded.
  • All the striking controllers were banned from any further employment with the US government in any capacity whatsoever. It was only in the year 1993 when then President Bill Clinton pardoned them and gave instruction to re-hire them; the shocker was it was 12 years after the incident occurred.

The case here looks a little lopsided and in slight favour of the PATCO. Although it can be said that the union was not fair in their calling off strike against the FAA, it can be however seen as ethical. Due to the reason that the FAA did not give any attention to the demands of the Union and its members, and even after 3-4 meetings, the effort was completely futile and the authority was in no mood to sit on the negotiating table. Thus, Poli too was under a lot of pressure as he was representing the rights of the labour union and wanted to extract a good deal for them, thus the impulsive decision to bring on the strike against the FAA was taken. Poli completely forget to harbinger the potential damage his action could potentially cause, and miscalculated the consequences. He even forgot about the previous contract in which it was clearly mentioned that any strike implemented by the union would be considered as illegal and the US government and FAA can take any action as they seem necessary to contain the strike. It was this useful piece of information which the union leader Poli overlooked and asked the union members to come together and put a strong case in front of the FAA.

Before getting into the intricacies of whether the union used fair or ethical negotiation tactics, it is important to first understand the implied meaning of these tactics to reach at a conclusion.

Fair Negotiation Tactics

Negotiation can be seen as a method by which people try to settle their differences, it is a process by which compromise or agreement is reached upon while avoiding any argument and dispute(Yang, DeCremer & Wang, 2017). In the case of disagreement individuals with an understanding aims to achieve the best possible outcome out of the situation and try to make the most out of it. In this case however, Poli tried sitting on the negotiation table with the authority, however they were in no mood to revisit the terms of the earlier contract. This, made Poli a little agitated and he took matter in his hands and overstepped the authority. Fair negotiation can be understood as the negotiation or arriving at a conclusion which is mutually agreed by both parties without any coercion or external pressure (Orbie & Martens, 2016).

Fair Negotiation Tactics

In such a state, a fair negotiation is achieved provided the terms of the agreement are just and equitable. The deal with Fair negotiation is that it has to be fair and just, mutually agreed upon both the parties and also take into consideration that nobody gets a setback in the process (Banai et. al., 2014). In the eye of Fair negotiation, thus it can be said that Poli and PATCO negotiation tactic was not at all fair. It can be easily seen as an act of militancy and trying to put in pressure or coercion on the US FAA authority by bringing the operation to halt due to the strike. Poli while taking the call of strike wasn’t aware of the potential ramification which can be caused by his action on the union members. Poli had a responsibility of ensuring the right of the members and also to put their best interests forward, however, the outcome of it was really devastating and imposed long plight on the members and Poli. Thus, in the eye of the above evidence and the understanding drawn from Fair negotiation we can easily draw the conclusion that the union did not use fair negotiation tactic (Fleck, Volkema & Pereira, 2016).

The same can also be seen by analysing the position of the FAA; the authority suffered a major blow due to the strike. The employees by not coming to the work could have led to potential and fatal accidents. Hence, it was highly unfair on the grounds of union members and Poli who went selfish and completely forego the needs and the modalities of their action (McDermott, 2016). At the very same time, Poli did not care about the ramification for the family members of the union members, the lives of the people would have been impacted due to the consequence of the strike. Thus in light of all the stakeholders who were or would have been impacted by this strike, it can be easily concluded that it was highly unfair (Gasper & Chen, 2016).

Ethical Negotiation

In the simplest way, the definition of ethics can be understood as a system of moral principles or values, it is the rules or standards governing the conduct of the members of a profession with accepted principles of right and wrong(Zohar, 2015). Many negotiators have described ethical negotiation as “ethical climate” because ethics are reflected in different context where expectations are that negotiators are seeking to maximize their own gains and are using the other parties as means not end in themselves to achieve their own goals. Hence it can be said that ethical climate is a function of more than just the behaviour alone, and it depends on the relationship between the negotiator and the other party (Butler, 2016).

Ethical Negotiation

Ethics is something which is different for every person, as it is guided by the principles, values, beliefs and moral of an individual and is partially influenced by the society in which the individual is raised, thus what is ethical for one might not be ethical for the other person. Thus, ethical negotiation can vary according to the situation and individual. In the case of PATCO and FAA, PATCO was highly unfair as thy failed to bring just, equality and fairness in their action; the actions were solely guided by the interest of the union without any due consideration for any kind of consequences (Kowalczyk & Kleka, 2015).

However, PATCO tried everything at their end to bring the negotiation to a win-win table, but due to getting ignored by the FAA authority repeatedly they had to take matter in their hand and take some action, which I their head was highly ethical. Poli tried to negotiate with FAA as the union was not happy with the earlier terms of agreement, and almost 90% of the people were not happy with the terms of the contract and the agreement. Thus, it was Poli who had the responsibility of forwarding the concern of the union members to the authority and bring out the outcome in the favour of union members. Poli was elected from amongst the union member due to his negotiation skill, his influencing ability and other strong personality features, thus he was entrusted to keep the rights of the union members above all (Balsiger, 2014).

Due to all these reasons and after trying every arrow from his quiver, he was left with no other option than to call a strike to wake up the authority so that they give their attention to the concern of the union members. Poli, in his head was ethical, as every person has a right to live and has a freedom to oppose what wrong is being done to hi in a peaceful manner, keeping all this rationale in mind, the act of Poli was highly ethical. He was fighting for the right and entitlement of the union members, who were being in a bad shape due to the earlier terms of agreement. Thus, the negotiation tactic was highly unfair but was ethical in the eyes of Poli and the union members, and he did not want to leave any stone unturned which would show them in a weak light. Poli was right on the ground of human rights and in thinking that he has to act in the best interest of the members he is representing, if in doing so, even if certain rules and policies are being flouted, it is still ethical according to their standards. Nobody should suffer in silence, it is an act of barbarism, thus one has to raise the voice to support their claim and make the authority listen to their demands.


Towards the end, in order to conclude the discussion whether union actions were fair or ethical, there are no two doubts that the action of union was highly unfair on the ground of justice and equality and should have been avoided at all costs. At the same time, Poli acted on the accord of the benefit of the union members and to support claim to their entitlement, which is ethical in practice.

Federal aviation authority is a US body which control and manages the air traffic control on the bastion and employees members of the Professional Air traffic controller’s organization union. The government has a signed contract with the union members on the terms and conditions which was earlier agreed and signed by the union members. Poli, who is the leader of the union and the representative of their rights, felt along with the union that there is a scope of significant improvement in the terms and contract of the agreement. FAA came up with a new agreement on the demands of the union members and submitted the same to Poli, but more than 90 % of the members were not satisfied with the terms and condition of the new agreement. The request for changing the agreement was then denied by the authority, over which the union and the members took an extreme step of calling a strike. The ramification of which were severe, as the FAA has to create an example out of them, the actions taken were as follows:

  • All the striking controllers were immediately fired from the job.
  • An injunction against the strike was obtained and both the union and the leaders were fined millions of dollars per day for the violations.
  • Poli and some other executive leaders were thrown into the prison.
  • The financial accounts of the union were impounded.
  • The biggest blow which the authority gave to the union members was, prohibiting them to work in the US government for a long period of time; it was after Bill Clinton came in power that after 12 years the punishment was called back.

As tough, severe, heinous the ramification may sound, the previous terms of the agreement clearly mentioned that Union members cannot call strike in any case, and in the situation of strike it will be called as illegal and the authority can take any action whatsoever.

The action of the government if has to be evaluated on the grounds of human context and considering the ramification and troubles the family members of the union members loss of pay, the action can certainly be considered as tragic and should have been avoided at all cost. FAA could have trimmed down the punishment keeping in mind the potential losses for other stakeholders and also the loss for the employees. But the authority wanted to set an example in front of the union that nobody is higher than the law, and everybody has to abide by the terms of contract which are guided by the law.

Rationale for the Fair and Appropriate action by the Government

US government is the supreme body which is embarked on the pillars of rightful law, fairness, ethics, integrity and genuinety. The Government has to make sure that all the organizations falling under the purview of government regulation abide by the laws set for them and also follow the guidelines related to work. The Government also has an added responsibility to make sure that the citizen or the members working in tandem with the US government and in contractual agreement with the government respect the terms and conditions as mentioned in the agreement (Lecocq & Hourcade, 2016).

Some people might think that the action taken by the government was highly unfair and done in spite to teach union members a lesson, but in all fairness, the action was extremely necessary and an important step to bring discipline into the system and curb such things from happening in the near and far off future. FAA denied the request of the union members in the peaceful manner when they wanted certain amendments in the agreement, the request was denied politely by the government, as in their eyes the amendments were not fair at the given point in time. The government authority already has plethora of responsibility on them, thus few ore meeting Poli had with FAA can be considered as futile. However, the measures and the means employed by FAA can be seen as highly ethical, fair, transparent and peaceful. The authority was just doing its job and obeying the commands of the senior authority by following the orders. In the government orders, commands and respect for law is seen in a higher light, thus government was just doing its job and to be fair it did a fantastic job.

FAA authority made it extremely clear to the PATCO and Poli that no further discussion would be done on the aforesaid topic. However, the union and the members did not knock the right door or used the best alternate available to make their voices heard. They went berserk and haphazardly called strike without thinking of the consequences for them. This was where the union went wrong and committed a mistake. They were supposed to follow the law, raise their voice peacefully and opt for the court. Judicial system has been created just to ensure that when someone has certain grievances and they are not being listened to, the judicial system can be approached for the justice. Judicial system in any state is the highest power which has been given the authority to decide in the case of any conflict or unfair treatment. Thus, the right way to approach the situation for the union and Poli would be to approach the court, discuss their grievances and accordingly fight the case to get the justice. If this approach would have been used by the Union, it would have been fair and ethical by all standards, but due to their adopted method of going forward with the strike, it resulted in unfair negotiation from their end.

Government on the other hand was extremely fair in their conduct and their action against the union members and the union leader, Poli. Government from its side did everything possible, engaged in fruitful conversation with the union leader and the members and formed a contract which was beneficial to them. However, if it was not acceptable to them, union could have knocked the doors of higher authority and given their grievances. Government did not do any unlawful activity; it did everything within the purview of law and the terms and condition of the contract. It was explicitly written in the contract that under no circumstance the FAA would tolerate strike from the union or its members, and a strict action will be taken against the people who are involved in such illegal activity (Gratch, Nazari & Johnson, 2016).

The hands of FAA were tied especially after the case of strike by the union members, because the entire operation came to a halt and plethora of nuance was the order of the house. Now, in such a situation even the hands of the government were tied as they were not at fault, and unnecessarily calling a strike was something which was out of the blue. Government had to go according to the contract agreement, which mentioned clearly that if at all strike is called by the union it would be deemed as illegal and the government is free to act on their own accord. FAA in order to set example for future unions gave hefty punishment to the union members and the union head, they wanted to create an example that nobody is over the law. In absence of proper communication or grievances handling the right approach should be to knock the doors of the higher authority such as the judicial system and not to take the matters in their own hand, however, despite understanding the ramification of the possible action of the strike, Poli and union members failed to comprehend to the same and thus their fate was written by the government.

Thus, in order to conclude, it can be clearly said that Government has to go by rules, follow the rules, follow the protocol and act accordingly. A government does not have power to act on its own accord and has to follow a system or a patter to reach at a logical conclusion. In the case above FAA or the government did everything right, its action was fair and ethical and within the purview of the law. Government was highly fair and ethical and was just following the orders as were mentioned in the contract. Imposing hefty fines and firing the employees from the job was the need of the hour. It was not an impulsive decision but a calculated move to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future, as the law is above all and justice always prevails. It is essential to always punish the miscreants who are not guided and governed by the law and just act of their impulse nature without any consideration for the possible ramification for any of the stakeholders (Stefandis & Banai, 2014).

In order to achieve a desired outcome in a negotiation process, it is critical that both the parties involved in the negotiation have a clear image of what they expect from this negotiation. Upon identification of the same, the two parties must communicate and offer solutions to each other. These solutions are then followed by bargaining and finally the case is closed after involved parties reach a grey ground. However, a failure at any step can lead to a negotiation breakdown. This is why a negotiation between two parties is a critical process and hence must be conducted with utmost care. There are various ethical and legal laws that bind both PATCO and FAA. In the face of a negotiation, it is imperative that both parties remain in the boundaries created by the laws that govern them. Respecting the sanctity of these laws comes foremost and hence it is critical that it is maintained and respected (Zhu, Zhao & Chua, 2016).

In the negotiation process of PATCO and FAA the ground rules and legalities were clearly violated by PATCO and hence this led to the breakdown in their negotiation. PATCO is primarily at fault in the failure of this negotiation. Since the beginning of their contract, it had been explicitly clear that either party is not legally allowed to conduct any kind of strikes. This was probably done after keeping in mind the criticality of the business. A strike does not only impact the two parties but all other stakeholders involved in the process. Hence if a strike is conducted in such a situation, it is sure to aggravate situation and adversely impact all the stakeholders which are directly or indirectly impacted by the two parties (Strulovici, 2017).

Union leader representative, Robert Poli has been leading the negotiation from PACTO’s side. He was well aware of all the laws that govern his team. As a leader it was his responsibility and accountability to ensure that the negotiation is conducted keeping all the legalities in mind. Despite that, he encouraged his team members to go on a strike which was strictly disallowed in the contract signed between the two parties. Therefore, Poli’s leadership is also ineffective and highly mismanaged. This is because the primary responsibilities of a leader are to make sure that the team does not conduct any activity which is considered illegal in the nature of the organization (Herwig, 2014).

Every individual is allotted certain responsibility and authority in any organization and at any position. In this case, PACTO leader, Robert Poli exceeded his authority and asked his team to resort to a strike. The rejection of a proposed agreement is similar to a no-confidence vote and hence efforts must be put by the other party to revise their stance and correct the same. An extreme step such as a strike causes harm to both the parties as well as various other stakeholders associated with either of the organizations. Hence Robert Poli must have understood the limitations that come with his position of authority as a union leader of PACTO and he must have respected the same. Poli must have also respected the seniority of FAA in the entire negotiation process and not conducted himself in an aggressive manner. This is a clear example of a flawed leadership and this wrong step taken by Poli did not only impact the entire negotiation process but also his team members (Kayes, 2015).

In the entire process of the negotiation as stated in the case, it has been clear that FAA has been following the ground rules despite tormented relationships between the two parties. They had presented a tentative agreement to the PATCO leader to negotiate a new labor management contract. However, this agreement was rejected by PATCO members. As per FAA, they had offered PATCO sufficient concessions and improvements on the already existing contract between both the parties. PATCO on the other hand resorted to aggression while responding to the offer made by FAA. Therefore, it is clear that PATCO is largely responsible for the negotiation breakdown between the two parties. Very often, during a negotiation, parties involved do not easily reach a final conclusion. It takes time and is often a lengthy process. Therefore during this time, it is highly important that parties keep working towards that much needed grey ground (Winham, 2014).

It is natural for negotiating parties to feel agitated or frantic owing to each other’s actions. However, what is most important in any negotiation process is that the parties involved continue to work towards their goals in an amicable manner. Trust and respect in each other helps in maintaining the sanctity of the negotiation process. This in turn enhances the possibility of both the parties being content with the negotiation outcome and also creates an environment of positivity among each other. Unfortunately, by asking his team members to go on a strike, Poli not only presented a case of flawed leadership but also disrupted the entire negotiation process by taking such an erratic step. Such steps in the negotiation process lead to similar steps from the opposing party as well. In this case also it has been witnessed that as a response to the strike initiated by PACTO members, FAA also took severe and extreme steps. These steps included firing controllers immediately from their respective jobs, fining the union leaders with several millions of dollars, arrest of several union executive leaders, impounding of union’s financial accounts and banning controllers from availing any further employment opportunity with the US government in any capacity.  It is safe to assume that such a stringent step would not have been taken by FAA had PACTO not resorted to conducting a strike (Craigie, Gransberg & Jeong, 2016).

During many negotiation processes, involved parties often resort to strikes but it is important to note that ideally this is the last step that is taken. A strike is usually followed by a large number of steps in between. In this case the negotiation appeared to be very short lived. A single tentative agreement was presented by FAA to PACTO which was rejected by the latter. However, within a short span of just two weeks, PACTO resorted to a strike. There were various better and less harming alternatives that could have saved the negotiation process from having such catastrophic effects. Within two weeks itself, conducting a strike is too soon especially when the current agreement had been in effect since such a long time. A strike is a clear indication or rather a warning to the other party. In any healthy negotiation, parties involved must resort to recommendations and not warnings. Warnings like going on a strike are unethical and in this case even illegal. Both the parties must enter the negotiation with the intention of trying to resolve the underlying issue and reach a conclusion which is fair to both the parties. If the involved entities continue to negotiate with their personal agendas in mind then it is likely that the negotiation process will not take place smoothly, there will be negative repercussions of the same and none of the parties involved would be satisfied with the final outcome of the process (Pestana, 2015)

From the various reasons determined above, it is clear that PACTO is at fault in the negotiation break down that happened between the two parties. PACTO took a stern step by conducting a strike. This was a highly aggressive step taken by the organization. PACTO should have put more efforts in an attempt to improve the contract between the two parties and should have been subtle in the actions taken by them. Secondly, as a leader, Robert Poli should have not exceeded his authority in the negotiation process and respected the seniority of FAA. His flawed leadership and misguided steps led to adverse impacts and many other stakeholders involved in the process would have to bear the brunt of it. Thirdly and most importantly, the step taken by PACTO to conduct a strike was illegal as it was clearly documented in the contract that PACTO is legally not allowed to go on a strike. Hence ethically as well as legally, it is clear that PACTO was wrong and largely responsible for the breakdown of the negotiation process between the two parties. Illegal, aggressive steps by PACTO under the misguided leadership of Robert Poli led to the breakdown of the negotiation between the two parties which adversely impacted various involved stakeholders.  

There are no two doubts that situation was blown way out of proportion which led to unforeseen and drastic consequences for the union member and the leaders. Had the situation been handled in a much better way, there definitely would have been a solution amicable to both the parties involved in the negotiation. It is natural for a conflict to arise when the two opposing parties are at loggerheads, and thus for this reason negotiation tactics come into play. Negotiation tactics and conflict resolution are designed especially for the purpose that in case of conflict, an amicable solution is carved, which is beneficial to both the parties and give them a feeling of win-win (Singer, 2018).

Things to be done differently by PATCO

Keeping all the points in mind, there are no two doubts that action taken by PATCO and especially the role played by the negotiator Poli was Unfair and highly unethical. The failure to foresee the future consequences was the biggest lacunae in the negotiation strategy of Poli, which led to such heinous circumstances. In order to avoid the same, PATCO could have knocked the door of the court, used the power of higher judiciary to bring justice to the situation. They could have easily written repeated letters to the authority senior to FAA and bring the matter into the light of the decision makers (Lederach, 2015). In order to do so, some of the conflict management and resolution strategy could have been used such as:

Conflict resolution Strategies

(Source: Wallensteen, 2015)


Accommodating strategy stands high on Level of cooperation and low on the level of competitiveness. This strategy essentially states that it should offer what the other party basically wants. The use of accommodation strategy is done where the party thinks that the issue is minor and therefore by accommodating certain changes the impact would not be that significant. In the case of PATCO however, FAA was not at all agreeing to amend the contract, thus the accommodation strategy fails in this case (Moore, 2014).


Avoidance strategy stands low on level of cooperation and the level of competitiveness, and as the name suggests this strategy aims to put off the conflict indefinitely. In this strategy the avoider hopes that the problem gets resolved on its own, without paying much attention to it. FAA was definitely going with the avoiding strategy, as it did not intend to get into any conflict and was assuming that the PATCO would mellow down on its own over the time. This strategy can be seen as productive and counter- productive, however, if PATCO would have avoided the conflict, FAA could have come down to their terms, but it was a long shot (Fisher, 2016).


This is one of the best negotiation strategies which come handy in the case of conflict resolution. The strategy rank high both in terms of level of cooperation and competitiveness, as the name suggest it is created by collating the ideas of multiple people of parties involved in the conflict. The underlying purpose here is to find a sweet spot which is acceptable to both the parties in the conflict. PATCO and FAA had to, had to work on coming up with a solution where both the parties would have been at peace. Poli could have leveraged his capacity of the negotitater and asked FAA to work on finding a collaboration solution to end the conflict in this case (Johns, Cowley & Guetzloe, 2017).


This type of negotiation strategy lies at the centre of level of cooperation and the level of competition, as the name suggests, this strategy is to be used in the situation wherein both the parties compromise certain elements of the deal and work towards an acceptable solution, if not necessarily agreeable solution. Here in the case of PATCO and FAA, the strategy could have been of great importance. For instance, Poli could have sat with the union and instead of dismissing the entire contract unanimously they could have identified the points which are agreeable to them, and which are not. The same should have been communicated to FAA, and the chances of working towards the amendments would have increased by a big margin. Thus, compromising strategy could have ensured that the union members do not suffer a bad fate (Folger, Poole & Stutman, 2017).


This type of negotiation strategy ranks high on the level of competition and low on the level of cooperation, in this case it was the competing strategy which was used by PATCO against the government. Competing strategy should be used only in the case, where the other party has sufficient leverage and a surety that the other conflicting party will have to drop their weapons. Poli was of the opinion that an indefinite strike would push back FAA, as the government could not take chances with procrastination of their operation, however, Poli’s judgment went wrong and the Government went berserk on the employees. Thus, usage of competing strategy went highly wrong for PATCO (Rahim, 2017).

Thus, it can be said that provided Poli and PATCO would have used accommodating, compromising, collaborating and avoiding strategy, the things definitely would have been different and the union members and leaders would have not suffered such an ill fate.

Bargaining Strategies

As mentioned in the earlier section, negotiation is a 2 Way Street through which one gets what he wants. It can be seen as a process in which 2 or more parties look forward to resolve their conflicts by the virtue of tweaking their demands, in order to reach a mutually acceptable solution. This type of negotiation was hardly reflected in the action of Poli and PATCO, which was the biggest reason for their ill fate. The two most common negotiation strategies which can help in resolving the conflict are distributive and integrative negotiation.

Distributive Negotiation

Distributive negotiation can be understood as a competitive negotiation strategy which is used in the cases where the conflicting parties are looking forward to divide the assets, fixed resources, money etc. between themselves. It can also be seen as a zero sum game, that is, as one party wins the other one definitely loses.  This type of negotiation is primarily used by business communicators where there is lack of trust and faith on the other party (Cummings et. al., 2015).

This type of negotiation in the case of PATCO and Poli could have gone either ways, but it would have definitely not have landed Poli in jail and other members out of their respective jobs. Distributive negotiation would have given certain leverage and power in the hands of PATCO as by asking for certain resources, they would have leveraged a full control over it, thereby creating a scenario of win for them.

Integrative Negotiation

Integrative negotiation is also known as a collaborative negotiation strategy, in this strategy both the parties seek to arrive at a solution of win-win in order to settle the conflict and move forward. Integrative negotiation makes the way for combining the goals, objectives and aims of both the parties in such a way that a larger pie is created out of it. Integrative negotiation is done keeping in mind, the needs, interests, concerns and preference of the parties concerned. Thus, Integrative negotiation is the best technique to accommodate the needs, concerns of the conflicting parties and reach at a solution which is happily acceptable to both, this is strongly based on the concept of value creation(Lawrence, 2018).

Integrative V/s Distributive Negotiation


Integrative Collaboration

Distributive Collaboration

Strategy used

Collaboration strategy is used here

Competitive strategy is used here


Can be anything, not fixed

In this case resources are mostly asset and money


WIN-WIN is the orientation here

Win-Lose is the orientation here


The motivation here is based on mutual interest and gain

The motivation here is based on self-interest and individual profit.


Multiple issues can be discussed at one time

Only one issue has to be discussed at a time


Openness and constructive communication is the order of the house here

Here it is selective and highly controlled.


High priority is give here

Not a high priority is given in this case.

(Source: Deutsch, 2015)

Thus, the differences between distributive and integrative negotiation tactics establishes the fact that situation could have been handled in a much better way, provided the negotiator would have some knowledge on the tactics of negotiation which he could have used for his leverage(Peng, Dunn & Conlon, 2015).

In all fairness, it is certain that the government agency did fair and ethical jobs in restricting the strike of the union members by taking strong steps towards them. The action of the government was guided by the terms and condition of the contract agreement, which mentioned explicitly strike would be treated as illegal. Thus, government was left with no other chance than to respond strongly and cite an example for future employees or the future union. However, there are still quite a few things which the government could have done differently, in order to avoid such a huge conflict and creating a situation of Lose-Lose for both FAA and PATCO.

Nowhere in the case has it been mentioned that the government was open to communication and was considering the points of the union. The government agency just rubbished all the possible amendments to the contract and left no choice for the union. However, if the government would have lent ears to the concerns of the union and communicated in a better way, there is no two doubts that the situation would have been different (Sebenius, 2015).

As pointed in the case, three of the meetings Poli had with FAA, 2 were extremely futile and government did not turn even heads towards the concerns of the union members. A conflict was in due in the pipeline, had the government been more proactive, more caring and more concerned towards the needs of the union, the members would have not suffered such an ill fate. FAA was the only body who could have solved the conflict, or guided the Union to approach somebody else, as FAA has its hands tied, this could have potentially reduced the conflict and empower the union in the process (Hawes & Fleming, 2014).

Thus, it can be concluded by saying that impulsive reaction of the PATCO and Poli was the pivotal reason for big loss for all the stakeholders. However, if the government would have been a little concerning, caring and considerate towards the needs and demands of the Union members, the situation could have been averted. Thus, Negotiation and bargaining tactics, two way communication and conflict resolution techniques are extremely important in handling such situations.


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