The cooperative approach implies a mutual desire among parties to resolve differences so that each side does not have an advantage. Though we often think union and management are at odds with one another, there are mutual interests between the two groups that encourage cooperation. For example, unions or management have an interest in the ongoing viability of a business. The more profitable a business becomes, the more likely benefits driven from profitability will be shared. It is incumbent upon unions and management to find ways to increase productivity and reduce costs without sacrificing jobs. Though issues of employee benefits tend towards being negotiated in less friendly atmospheres, the overarching goal of sustaining the organization's fiscal health is paramount to both parties. There is an element of cooperation even in the most adversarial negotiations.
When issues rise to a level of the need for outside legal resolution, the cooperative approach in unionized organizations is clearly documented by various notes, meeting dates, and agreements. Courts want to see legal evidence of action leading to decisions. Cooperation between unions and management generates substantive legal documentation that is reviewable. This documentation includes various communications, calendars of meetings, proposals, preliminary agreements, and other types of material that demonstrate both sides were operating in good faith to resolve their difference before seeking legal assistance from courts. In the absence of cooperation, the existing legal documentation is controlled by management, whose interest is singularly oriented towards their own point of view.
In a non-unionized environment, while the same issues exist, there is not necessarily a need for a cooperative approach. Without the strength of an organized workforce, managers are free to make decisions that benefit the company first and not concern themselves with cooperative approaches to labor. Using the same example as the unionized organization, productivity and profitability can be increased through technical mechanization, reduction in employee benefits, and reduction in workforce. Although cooperation in a non-unionized organization is preferred, corporate managers can function reasonably effectively without it.
In short, evidentiary standards for legal resolutions are better documented in unionized organizations. Decisions resolving issues requiring a legal intervention become matters of law and fact rather than personal disputes between labor and management, as often is the case in non-unionized organizations.