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Future Search in
Salt Lake City 2005

Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005

This is a report from a Future Search Conference on the Future of Bargaining Unit Seniority of UTA, held in Salt Lake City in February, 2005.

Conference Proceeding

Friday, February 11, 2005 the Oversight Committee created by Utah Transit Authority and the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 382 as a result of the 2004 labor negotiations convened a Future Search Conference. The theme of the conference is What is the Future of Bargaining Unit Seniority at Utah Transit Authority?

The Oversight Committee realized that they could not answer this question a lone. They need to see the whole issue or »elephant« before they could begin the work to find possible solutions. During the planning of this conference the Oversight Committee concluded that their were nine different groups within the organization that has a stake or investment in how seniority is earned, rewarded and recognized amongst the member of Local 382 and how it is managed by Utah Transit Authority's management team.

View over Salt Lake City, day 1

Day 1

So, Friday February 11, they gathered at Rice Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah to discuss and expose their divergent opinions about this topic, to take a realistic and sometimes intensely emotion look and to begin the process of discovering common ground and creating a desirable future state.

From the Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005

Day 1 opened with the timelines and closed with the mind map. The participants left feeling a little anxious but avowing to return the second day to continue the journey through the question of bargaining unit seniority and perhaps tonight many of them are wondering openly and privately »What is the Future of Bargaining Unit Seniority? And are we as a group good enough, competent enough and courageous enough to answer this very important question?«

Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005 (Click to enlarge) Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005 (Click to enlarge)
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Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005 (Click to enlarge) Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005 (Click to enlarge)
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Day 2

It was foggy and snowing. Unlike the day before you could not look out and see the Salt Lake Valley, the Wasatch Front Mountains, the TRAX trains or the buses. It is difficult to know whether or not the weather was a reflection of the state of mind of the conference participants or whether it was acting as a coon that forced the group to stay in the room and in the present. And, like making a journey on a foggy day, the group moved slowly, steadily yet forward; however there were times that individuals and the group seemed to have lost its orientation because of the myopia caused by focusing so intently on the present and the desire solve a problem rather than finding common ground.

Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005 (Click to enlarge) Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005 (Click to enlarge)
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Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005 (Click to enlarge) Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005 (Click to enlarge)
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Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005 (Click to enlarge) Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005 (Click to enlarge)
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Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005 (Click to enlarge) Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005 (Click to enlarge)
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After lunch the group moved from the present to dreaming about the future, it is curious that as we made this transition the fog lifted just enough to give us a glimpse of the passengers, the buses and the trains that we all are familiar with and that represents our work and in some ways will be impacted by the work of this conference.

So, the participants finished day two very much like the weather for some the fog was being to lift and for others it was still dense, however from the enactment of the future scenarios most seemed hopeful for a brighter tomorrow.

Day 3

On the morning of day three the sun was up and it was very clear. For me, one of the lead facilitators, there were several songs playing my head all of them about the hope that we believe the sunshine bring to a situation.

Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005 (Click to enlarge) Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005 (Click to enlarge)
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Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005 (Click to enlarge) Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005 (Click to enlarge)
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Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005 (Click to enlarge)
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Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005 (Click to enlarge) Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005 (Click to enlarge)
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Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005 (Click to enlarge) Future Search in Salt Lake City 2005 (Click to enlarge)
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When we arrived at the conference site, many of the participants had already arrived and they were intently working on the morning task of find common ground around values, principles, projects and creative ideas. Although the sun was shining outside and the sky was absolutely clear (it was one of those days where one could see for 20 miles if standing in the right placed) the mental and emotional sky of many of the participants was still a bit foggy or hazy.

After several requests for consultation, that lead to the restating of the task and a reminder of the need for self managing roles the groups begin to feel the sunshine inside themselves, their fellow participants and the conference as a whole.

I moved from confusion to inspiration when I saw the common ground wall. I had been in confusion for several reasons, what I was observing and what people were reporting about how confused and divided the groups were; however, when the two groups that constituted two halves of the conference presented their values, principles, projects and creative ideas I moved from confusion to inspiration. Although there were many items on the unresolved differences list, as the facilitators we could see the possibilities in moving some of these items to the projects and creative ideas list.

So, the group struggled as a whole conference to find common ground by understanding more and trying hard to be heard, to listen, and to be understood. They finally succeeded.

After lunch, the groups approach the action planning with a renewed intensity that I would not have believe possible after working so intently for two and one half days. They convened groups and discussed issues that gave them energy and that they felt were essential to moving the question of bargaining unit seniority forward.

When the groups came back together for reporting, there were seven projects and at least two of them came from the unresolved differences area of the common ground wall. The convener's made their reports to applause and a commitment from the Oversight Committee co-chairs to move these ideas forward.

Thus, the conference ended and 80 people left tired, changed hopeful, energized enlightened, connected and understood. The sunshine had indeed shone in the windows, the hearts, and the minds of the participants and I am confident there will be ripples that we cannot imagine at this writing.

Drusilla Copeland and Bengt Lindstrom

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