In early 1999 we went to visit TMT to see how our Rules of Employment, and some personnel practices would stand up under Mr. Nevins’ scrutiny. We also had a couple of poor performer issues, one of which had gone to see a union. It was the typical pattern where the outside union was demanding to get a date to negotiate on our employee’s behalf.
Contrary from the typical advice one would get from a lawyer, Tom Nevins arranged things, and worked with us so that there never was a meeting with the union.
Then the employee got the government Japanese Labor Affairs Consultative Office in on the act. Without refusing we managed to avoid the request to go there. (These things take time and don’t make us look good or strong in the eyes of our employees.) When offered a visit from their side, we told them we could save them the trouble and work things out with our employee, because it was our responsibility (with emphasis on the word our).
Within just two or three days we proceeded to do just that. The issue was finished, and at a very reasonable severance cost.
Tom went on and helped us adjust our Rules of Employment. He also helped us communicate this and implement it in front of all our employees.
Tactics, experience, communication, common sense, heart, persuasion, confidence, strength with compassion, and enthusiastic passion, describe the process, and seem to weigh-in much heavier than considerations of legalities or “illegalities” — a term that is used too freely and too easily. “Is it legal?” is a question that is asked too often. In reality there is no clear answer in so many cases.
Tom’s advice disagreed with the legal advice we were given. However, if we had followed the legal advice, it would have not been practical, and would not have solved our problem. You could say that following the recommended legal advice path would have been risky, dangerous, harmful, expensive, and left us with a recurring headache in terms of ongoing union presence. Our organization would have been weaker. Our ability to run the firm would have been impaired.
(former) Finance Controller
CDC Marchés Tokyo Branch