In the late 1990s Kaiser facilities in north-eastern United States entered into a period of major industrial dispute, resulting in a lockout of members of the unionised workforce. During the ensuing period management needed to restart the operations with a new workforce, most of whom were untrained, understand more fully what had driven the behavioural issues leading to industrial action and eventually prepare for a return to work of the previous workforce.
This was eventually required by the legal system via arbitration after a period of over 2 years.
This case study is focused on the process of analysis and decision-making which the plant management team undertook in order to plan for that return.
It deals particularly with the Systems Leadership models around Culture and the effective use of Symbols to convey messages, establish and reinforce mythologies in an emotionally fraught situation.