For human resources professionals and labor and employment attorneys, explaining what you do to adults is difficult enough. But how do you explain work issues to your kids?
Or for the non-lawyers out there, how do you explain things like the television writer’s strike that allow more reality shows like American Gladiators to hit the air? (At least we still have Lost to count on for the next few weeks…)
And perhaps most importantly, how do you explain, "dispute resolution" in terms that they can understand (besides simply explaining that they "work it out" who gets to play with a doll first)
Well, there’s one book that we’ve had on our bookshelves for years that fits the bill for the younger set (ages 3-8). It’s called "Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type" by Doreen Cronin. Cronin (not surprisingly, an attorney) creates a story of various barnyard residents who join together to try to improve their working conditions.
How does it start? Well, first the cows discover an old typewriter and begin to air their grievances. Eventually, they declare that "the barn is very cold at night. We’d like some electric blankets." When the farmer denies their request, the cows go on strike. Eventually, a neutral mediator — a duck — gets both sides to find common ground and the farm returns to "normal". It’s a light and warm-hearted tale.
Yes, I’m sure that out there somewhere, some anti-union group will take this book too seriously and a threat to society in general.
But really, I’ve found the book to have 1) a good story; 2) good pictures; 3) a good message (working out differences peacefully). Sometimes, a book is just a book. For those looking for something new for a gift or to read to kids, it’s a decent story to have.
UPDATE: Ohio Employer’s Law Blog has this post with a few other lessons to draw from the story as well.