Lawyers Bring OLAB Activities to Life

by Kenny Farris '12

July 13, 2011

2011 OLAB Program Off To Fast Start

The 2011 Opportunities to Learn About Business (OLAB) participants took a deep dive into the realities of labor negotiations to mark the program’s midweek point.

The 11 teams in Wabash’s OLAB program bargained with five Wabash alumni lawyers and one professional negotiator to create labor contracts for their newly-formed fictitious companies. The student teams and negotiators worked 90 minutes on penning labor contracts that would determine the plausibility of the OLAB participants’ companies.
“I can’t stop my head from spinning,” Alexander Wilson said. “They come in for exactly what they want first, and once they leave we’d go about changing the way we go about something or holding our ground on what we want.”
The demands and force of the negotiators often surprised the students. Armed with instructions to have fun and challenge the students, the six negotiators pushed through their agendas that often bordered on the unreasonable.
(Photo above right: Lawyers Scott Benedict and Tim Craft share a fist bump to show solidarity in their negotiating position.) See a photo album from the morning negotiations here. For more photos of OLAB, click here and for pictures from Tie Dye Day, click here.
“We were going for a pool on top of each of the factories,” OLAB negotiator Tim Craft ’00 said. “We got one pool and two sets of gym memberships, although we could have been a little more unreasonable.”
Craft joined forces with Phi Gamma Delta fraternity brother Scott Benedict ’00 to challenge the students’  vision of their companies’ operations. The two lawyers shared fist-pumps and a strong conviction toward particular positions in an intimidating effort against the students.
“We were supposed to have fun, we were supposed to be somewhat unreasonable to try to push these guys a little bit,” Benedict said. “I really enjoyed watching the reactions. There were a couple times when everyone started laughing because it was just ridiculous, and that was fun.”
The negotiators have coupled off-the-wall demands like a factory roof-top pool, two hours off during the work day, and Wabash basketball season tickets (note: games at Chadwick Court have free admission) with wages, productivity levels, and benefits to push the students to their negotiating limits. The participants showed their passion and tension while deliberating over the demands.
“I think the biggest challenge is to have him see from our eyes,” said Carmel High School senior Seth Gunderman, son of Tom Gunderman ‘89. “When he (the attorney) hears us say ‘Well, if you help us sell more, we’ll make more money.’ Then, he’ll say ‘Well, when will I get my money?’
“It’s hard to negotiate that, the company wanting more money but him wanting more pay. It’s a tough aspect.”
Even with all the challenges, the Labbies have already seen their progress in this week’s version of the 39-year-old program. Throughout the morning counselors spent time answering participants' questions about business strategies learned this week.
“If I would have come here Sunday and been thrown right into it, I wouldn’t understand most of it, especially a lot of the terminology our union workers are using,” Gunderman said. “Now it’s kind of cool to put all our knowledge that we’ve learned into the game.”

(In photo above left, Seth Gunderman may be showing a little frustration with the lawyer's demands.)


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