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TEACHER CENTER


Can You Afford to Retire

Pre-Viewing Lesson Plan

Concession: The Game



This game, based on the United Airlines case, starts when a Company discovers that it cannot or does not wish to honor the commitments it has made to its Workers. The object of the game depends upon which team you belong to:

BUT a complicating factor, called Chapter 11, is a kind of bankruptcy that only the Company can choose. Chapter 11 allows businesses to reorganize, giving them an opportunity to restructure debt and free themselves from what they see as burdensome leases and contracts. Typically a business is allowed to continue to operate while it is in Chapter 11, although it does so under the supervision of the Bankruptcy Court. Source: http://bankruptcy-law.freeadvice.com/eleventh_chapter.htm

For background to the United Airlines Chapter 11 bankruptcy, read:

Lesson Objectives:

Students will become familiar with:

Materials Needed:

Time Needed:

Procedure:

  1. Divide the class into teams of four students each. (If the number of students in your class does not divide equally by four, make the groups slightly larger or smaller as needed.)
  2. Assign each team to be either the Company or the Workers. If you have 32 students in the class, for example, you will have four teams of Workers and four teams of the Company.
    • Without letting the Workersą teams hear, tell the Company teams that their objective is to push Workers to concede wages, health benefits and pension rights without them going on strike or quitting.
    • Without letting the Company teams hear, tell the Workersą teams that their objectives are to retain wages, health benefits, and pension rights without leading the Company to declare bankruptcy.
  3. Each team will work independently of other teams, so that everyone must think and participate.
  4. Each team starts with one of the following sets of index cards. They keep their cards secret from the other team until they choose to display one or more cards. Each team starts with 10 cards.

    Give the Worker teams index cards, and tell them to copy one of each of the following bullet points onto a separate card. Tell them to write in large, easy-to-read print:

    • I retain my $40,000 salary.
    • I retain Company-paid health benefits worth $500 per month.
    • I retain Company-paid pension benefits guaranteeing a 70 percent of salary pension after 35 years of employment.
    • I propose a shorter workweek.
    • I propose some Worker contribution to my health benefits if I get a 5 percent raise.
    • I accept a 5 percent wage decrease.
    • I accept a 10 percent wage decrease.
    • I accept a 20 percent wage decrease.
    • I'm going on strike.
    • I quit.
    Give the Company teams index cards, and tell them to copy one of each of the following bullet points onto a separate card. Tell them to write in large, easy-to-read print:

    • I propose retention of $40,000 salary with some worker layoffs.
    • I propose a 5 percent wage decrease.
    • I propose a 10 percent wage decrease.
    • I propose a 20 percent wage decrease.
    • I propose a $50 per month Worker contribution to health benefits.
    • I propose a $100 per month Worker contribution to health benefits.
    • I propose a $150 per month Worker contribution to health benefits.
    • I propose dropping the Company-paid pension plan.
    • I propose a Company contribution to a (401(k)) plan to which the employee will also contribute and that the employee will manage.
    • I declare Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

  5. Pair up a Worker team and a Company team. Have each team keep all its index cards hidden from the other teams.
  6. The Company begins the conversation by saying, "We've called this meeting because the Company needs to rethink its financial obligations, particularly health and pension benefits."
  7. The Workers team then puts one or more cards on the table.
  8. The Company team, after discussion amongst themselves, then plays a card.
  9. The Game continues, with each team playing a card in turn and discussing their moves with the opposing team. Continue for at least two or three turns.
  10. If the Workers immediately use the "I quit" card, the game is over, but so are their jobs. So the Workers must discuss among themselves what they are willing to give up to keep their jobs.
  11. The Game has only three possible endings:

    • agreement between the two sides.
    • the Workers saying "I quit."
    • the Company declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
  12. There is no predetermined outcome to this game.

Follow Up