You don’t get paid for the hour…..You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.

Jim Rohn

Taking a seat at the collective negotiations bargaining table for the last 25 years has taught me how people are paid in relation to the time that is spent with their employer. Undoubtedly, one of the cornerstones of a negotiations demand in collective bargaining is an increased hourly wage. In fact, I cannot remember a single negotiations demand that did not call for an increase in wages. However, the demand for an increased wage is predicated upon a number of factors. We often make the demand for a wage increase to “remain competitive” with our peers in the workforce, to maintain our purchasing power because of rising inflation, or sometimes I simply hear form the client—“we deserve it”. While most reasons for an increased wage are valid, the manner in which I have approached and viewed negotiating an increase in wages and employment benefits has evolved.

To paraphrase the late great Jim Rohn, “You are not paid for the hour spent working, but instead, you are paid for the value that you bring to the employer in that hour while you are working”. Think about that for a moment as I believe our collective negotiations position needs to be centered around this premise. Surely, everyone wants and needs the purchasing power of their dollar to be maintained through a higher wage that keeps up with inflation. However, when you approach negotiations from the converse, by telling the employer that a higher wage needs to be paid because of the “value” you or your members bring to the workplace, it has the ability to bring significant leverage to your bargaining position.

For instance, let’s look at a sworn law enforcement officer. Law enforcement officers are paid a wage often times based on experience. In other words, they are paid a “sliding salary” based on a salary guide that increases year over year based on the experience that the officer brings to his or her position of employment. Clearly, an officer that is more experienced brings greater value to the community that he or she serves through the relationships that he or she has built, their experience in defusing crisis situations, and responding to critical incidents in a manner that will result in a more favorable outcome than perhaps the younger less experienced officer can produce. Based on this premonition, the value that an officer brings to the community and/or workplace increases exponentially over time. Thus, it is critical to the employing community that the law enforcement officer remains with that employer because of the value that is brought to its constituency.

While an employee in a manufacturing plant should be viewed in the same way (increased time and experience = increased value), unfortunately, these points are often missed by the bargaining unit or given short attention by the employer. Think about it—it is critical to a corporation manufacturing widgets that they retain the “seasoned” employees that produce value, whether it be skilled and/or unskilled labor. What is that value that is brought through time and experience? Perhaps it is the production of a product that has less incidents of return and/or recall. Perhaps it is a greater rate of production because the employee has learned to work more efficiently over time.

Think about these principles in earnest the next time you take a seat at the bargaining table. If these principles are employed correctly, it has the potential to produce very good results.

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Photo of Frank M. Crivelli Frank M. Crivelli

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state…

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state, county and local law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMS workers.

Mr. Crivelli specializes his individual practice in collective negotiations.  Over the past twenty (20) years, Mr. Crivelli has negotiated well over one hundred (100) collective bargaining agreements for various state, county, municipal and private organizations and has resolved over thirty-five (35) labor agreements that have reached impasse through compulsory interest arbitration.  Mr. Crivelli routinely litigates matters in front of the New Jersey State Public Employment Relations Commission, the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law, third party neutrals for mediation, grievance and interest arbitration, the Superior Court of New Jersey and the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Mr. Crivelli founded and created the New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog ( approximately fifteen (15) years ago where he and members of his firm routinely publish blog posts regarding legal issues related to the employment of New Jersey Public Safety Officers.  The blog now contains over six hundred (600) articles and is reviewed and relied upon by thousands of public employees.  Mr. Crivelli has also published books and manuals pertaining to New Jersey Public Employee Disability Pension Appeals and the New Jersey Worker’s Compensation System. Currently, he is drafting a publication on how to Prepare and Negotiate a Collective Bargaining Agreement.  He lectures annually at the New Jersey State PBA Collective Bargaining Seminar, the National Association of Police Organization’s Legal Seminar, the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission Seminar on Public Employment Labor Law, the United States Marine Corps’ Commander’s Media Training Symposium and to Union Executive Boards and General Membership bodies on various labor related topics.

Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Crivelli joined the United States Marine Corps where he served as a Judge Advocate with the Legal Services Support Section of the First Force Services Support Group in Camp Pendleton, California.  While serving in the Marine Corps, Mr. Crivelli defended and prosecuted hundreds of Special and General Court Martial cases and administrative separation matters.  In addition to his trial duties, Mr. Crivelli was also charged with the responsibility of training various Marine and Naval combat command elements on the interpretation and implementation of the rules of engagement for various military conflicts that were ongoing throughout the world at that time. After leaving active duty, Mr. Crivelli remained in the Marine Corps Reserves where he was promoted to the rank of Major before leaving the service.

For the past fifteen (15) years, Mr. Crivelli has been certified as a Civil Trial Attorney by the Supreme Court for the State of New Jersey, a certification which less than two percent (2%) of the attorneys in New Jersey have achieved.  He is a graduate of Washington College (B.A.), the City University of New York School of Law (J.D.), the United States Naval Justice School, and the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation.