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After reading the latest press releases from the two sides involved in the West Coast port dispute one can have nothing but sympathy for the federal mediators now charged with trying to bring harmony in what has become an increasingly acrimonious row. Both the workers, represented by the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU), and the employers in the form of the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), issued statements yesterday which may as well have been in different languages, so at variance were they. read
After an exchange of proposals this month, the association representing the operators of West Coast ports called late Monday for federal mediation to resolve the contract talks with the longshore union. The Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have been discussing a new contract for union workers at 29 West Coast ports for about seven months. Cargo is continuing to move through the ports -- albeit at a slower than usual pace -- since the previous contract expired at the end of June. read
The strike by 1,500 University of Oregon graduate teaching fellows ended this morning after a 22-hour mediation session. Union officials said the new contract provides the teaching assistants with fair wages and a hardship fund to provide paid medical and family leave. Access to the fund is "protected by language in the collectively bargained agreement, and can be grieved if an employee is denied reasonable access to the fund," according to a statement from the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation. "I'm extremely proud of the graduate employees of GTFF," AFT-Oregon President David Rives said. "This contract is a monumental achievement for workers across all campuses." The union and supporters will hold a celebration rally at noon today at Matthew Knight Arena. The teaching assistants will return to work later today, union officials said. read
Pilots at Lufthansa have called for mediation to cover all areas of their dispute with the German airline's management, not only the early retirement row that has resulted in 10 strikes this year. Lufthansa offered last week to enter mediation to resolve the long-running dispute over early retirement benefits, seeking to halt the pummeling it was taking from repeated industrial action. The company estimated this week that labour strikes this year have cost it close to 200 million euros ($247.5 million) in operating profit. read
Allison Beck, acting director of the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, began mediating the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra labor dispute on Oct. 7. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, which restarted stalled contract negotiations between Atlanta Symphony Orchestra management and musicians a month ago, released a statement late Friday afternoon announcing a tentative accord between the two sides. “The parties have been faced with complex issues and some very tough choices, which they were dedicated to resolving,” FMCS acting director Allison Beck said. “This tentative agreement will help ensure the continuing viability of one of the premier cultural institutions of the South.” read
In Singapore, taxi drivers can now turn to a more structured system to help settle disputes with their taxi companies quickly and amicably. The Taxi Industry Mediation system is a collaboration between the Land Transport Authority (LTA), taxi companies and National Taxi Association (NTA). It was launched in July, and is on trial for six months. The National Taxi Association receives about 10 cases a week on a range of issues which drivers face with their taxi companies, insurance firms or between drivers themselves. A top complaint is drivers feeling they were unfairly terminated due to service lapses. read
Allison Beck won’t be walking into an unknown situation Tuesday when she relaunches negotiations between the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and its locked-out musicians. Last summer, Beck, the acting director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services, talked the New York Metropolitan Opera and its workers and musicians from a dozen unions back into the concert hall and helped save the season. But that was before a lockout took place. She will begin the difficult work of trying to rescue the ASO’s season after a monthlong lockout during which rancor and tension over pay, benefits and the size of the orchestra have swollen to an infected state. read
Where there are people, there is conflict, and your office is no different. It doesn’t matter if there are just two employees or two hundred, there are going to be fights; there is going to be drama. Unfortunately, that makes life difficult for many of us. I don’t like drama. I’d rather just avoid getting involved and let it play out. But when you run a business, you can’t think that way. Too much office drama can make your business grind to a halt, and it’s up to you to help resolve sticky situations. read
Late Saturday, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra sent out a press release saying that the ASA management and its musicians had agreed to mediation to try to find consensus on a contract. The ASO management and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Players’ Association (ASOPA) agreed to restart collective bargaining agreement discussions using a federal mediator. The mediator is Allison Beck, deputy director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. She served as the mediator during the Metropolitan Opera Musicians’ labor dispute in August. read
The state’s grievance arbitration system was designed to protect public employees from discipline without just cause and violations of their employment contracts. Yet some arbitrator decisions reinstating police officers terminated for criminal activity or alleged criminal activity have called into question whether the arbitration system serves the interest of public trust in law enforcement. Some law enforcement leaders say they can’t depend on arbitrators to uphold discipline of peace officers who violate the law. read
Looking to the Future: Is There Still A Place For Proactive, Early Intervention Mediation in Our Changing Field? (1/13/15) Nina Meierding In the author's experience as a mediator in over 4,000 cases and in almost thirty years of working with advocates, consulting attorneys, and collaborative lawyers, she believes that all forms of mediation are valuable processes which each have their place in helping parties move forward in their conflicts. She takes no position on the "best" process, only that self-determination remains the ultimate goal of any form of mediation. She is hopeful that mediators, participants, and attorneys will re-examine the trend of late intervention, lawyer-centric mediation and bring pro-active, early mediation back as one of the important focuses of the mediation field.
Najar on Dispute Management 2.0 (12/19/14) F. Peter Phillips Najar, his colleague Michael McIlwrath, his former colleague PD Villarreal, and others at General Electric were responsible for pounding into my head two distinctions. The first was the concept of “dispute management” rather than “dispute resolution,” and the other was “Early Dispute Resolution” rather than “Alternative Dispute Resolution.”
Workplace Restoration Case Study (12/12/14) Jeanette Bicknell Relations between the account services team and the head of production (“Bob”) were at an all-time low. The “drama” was a distraction from business. The manager wanted people to be able to work together collaboratively as a team. She was tired of responding to complaints about Bob and wasn’t sure what to do. And she wanted a quick solution before key staff members left for vacation. So she turned to a mediator.
Mobbing at Work - en Espanol (12/05/14) Alicia Millán Este artículo intenta abarcar tres aspectos diferenciados aunque esenciales para el reconocimiento y tratamiento de este modo de violencia que tanto el Informe sobre Seguridad en el Trabajo de la Organización Internacional del Trabajo (O.I.T.) como otras publicaciones especializadas en la materia y en Congresos y Eventos sobre el tema lo califican como “nueva plaga laboral del siglo XXI”.
Whose Job is the Conflict? (11/14/14) Maria Simpson I am a big proponent of taking responsibility for resolving a conflict that somehow includes or affects you, especially if you started the dispute, and this article offers skills for doing this.
The Case for Dispute Resolution Clauses in Contracts (11/11/14) Michael A. Zeytoonian I am fortunate enough to have some great clients. They do their jobs well, they run their businesses and organizations well. Because they do things right, I have less “back end” (reactive) work from them because they don’t get many claims against them. That is partly because we work together on the “front end” (proactive) work of anticipating issues before they arise and preventively address them.
Workplace Conflict – Putting It in Context (10/24/14) Jon Warner Many articles on workplace conflict miss out on a key subject area and one which is often best considered first – the context within which the conflict has arisen in the first place. In other words, we cannot consider a conflict situation in isolation from the circumstances in which it has occurred, and the key to its resolution may well lie as much in this contextual realm as it does in appreciating the conflict issue and the people involved in the dispute.
The Trading Zone in Mediation of Employment Disputes (10/21/14) Jan Schau Sometimes I feel like I’m in the middle of a tug-of-war. This week I had the anomolous situation of having two nearly identical full day cases back to back. In the first, the Plaintiff started the demand at $1 million and Defense offered $30,000 (the equivalent to one year of salary). She was alleging age discrimination, though the Company had laid her off in a reduction in force and she was only 42. In the second, Plaintiff started the demand at $200,000.00.
It Is All In The Attitude ! (10/04/14) Phyllis Pollack Once again, the New York Times has published an interesting article in its Sunday Review section on September 5, 2014 entitled "Liking Work Really Matters" by Paul A. O'Keefe. The thesis is that when we really enjoy what we are doing, we can do it for much longer than if we find it to be tedious. Our mental gas tank is nowhere as depleted when we are in the "in the zone" or in "flow": "During a flow state, people are fully absorbed and highly focused; they lose themselves in the activity." (Id.)4545
Conflict in Start-ups (10/03/14) Jeanette Bicknell From one perspective, conflict in a start-up should not be different from conflict in any other similarly sized organization. And to be sure, some of the same factors that cause conflict in any organization – whether it is a family business or a partnership or a non-profit – can contribute to conflict in a start-up. Yet start-ups also have some unique challenges, and I’ve seen some rather bad advice targeted to them.
Great Workplaces (9/19/14) Maria Simpson Fortune magazine publishes an annual list of great places to work, and this year, as in many others, Goldman Sachs took first prize. Many people are surprised by that considering the hours and workload, but there are other elements to consider besides hours.
What Did Labor Day Teach Us About ADR? (9/12/14) Susan Yates For a while in the evolution of the ADR field, when two neutrals met they would sometimes ask what the other’s “profession of origin” was. What they meant was, “what did you do before you were a mediator?” There were some unspoken questions packed in there, too. They wanted to know, are you a full-time neutral or are you really from some other profession and trying to break into this one?
Preventing Conflict in the Workplace by Taking Time for Yourself (9/05/14) Vivian Scott I just got back from a holiday with my significant other and as I get ready to take a long weekend with family, I’m thinking about how fortunate I am this year to be taking so much time off. I realize not everyone has the same opportunity, so I thought I’d share some ways in which one can take a vacation at work without actually taking time off.
Employment Mediation Requires a Unique Touch (9/05/14) Jeffrey Grubman Although the fact patterns of employment cases vary considerably, there is always a common theme. The plaintiffs believe they have been mistreated by their employers, and the employers almost always deny the factual allegations.
Do Unethical Leaders Foster Conflict Among Followers? (9/05/14) Nick Redding Recent events, such as the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill, questionable accounting practices at Enron, and illegal hiring practices among Silicon Valley’s most prominent companies, are just a few among many examples of unethical organization leadership practices today.While the impact of unethical leadership practices on local communities is often times immeasurable, what is less well understood is the impact of this type of leadership inside the organization. Specifically, how does unethical leadership impact those individuals working under it?
The Good and Bad of Conflict (8/22/14) Ken Johnson As conflict professionals, we should strive to understand the subject of conflict in all its various forms. However, the large majority of the industry only desires to resolve conflict. Indeed, conflict can be beneficial (anabolic) or destructive (catabolic). Knowing the difference can give businesses and other organizations a catalystic edge to take them to the next level.
Developmental Negotiation: Preliminary Stage (8/01/14) Alex Polsky Developmental negotiation involves a plan and execution of the development of all five stages to maximize the likelihood of a beneficial outcome. The five stages are preliminary, preparation, information, negotiation and closing.
Dynamos, Cruisers, and Losers (8/01/14) Geoff Sharp Before I left my law firm in the late 1990's David Maister, a Boston management guru of whom many of you will know, was the darling of every large service firm, especially in the law and accountancy fields.
He has long since retired but at his height he was good, very good – despite being a former Harvard Business School professor, he had a practical wisdom that could cut through the management gobbledygook I was struggling with at my firm’s monthly management meetings at the time.
ABA / Straus Institute Survey (7/18/14) Tom Stipanowich One of the three recent surveys undertaken by the Straus Institute in 2013 as part of the Theory-to-Practice Research Project was a survey of corporate counsel co-sponsored by the American Bar Association’s Section on Public Utilities, Communication and Transportation (PUCAT) ADR Committee.
Case Study: The Mediating Manager (7/18/14) Katherine Graham Sian is the Communications Manager for a UK charity and has recently appointed James, a designer whose job required frequent contact with production officer Helga, who had worked with Sian for over 3 years. Sian had a sinking feeling that things were not going too well between James and Helga, but Sian was busy and, optimistically, had put the tensions down to early teething troubles and hoped she could leave them to sort out their differences ‘as adults’.
Conflict Systems at Work in Startups (6/20/14) Mark Baril Behind most disputes is a system that perpetuates the problem. Uncovering the system will reveal why these negative conflict outcomes keep coming back, and, hopefully, how to fix them for good.
Settlement Conferences and the Price of Contempt (6/06/14) Mary Novak In a settlement conference, what is the value of having someone present with full authority to settle? If one party lacks the authority, it can result in aggravation, wasted court fees, and lost time for trial preparation. American Family Insurance (AFI) recently learned this to their cost in a dog-bite case in Washoe County, Nevada. Because Judge Janet Berry did not believe the insurers had complied in good faith with her rules on authority to settle, she found the company in contempt and sanctioned them $50,000.
Quick Tip: Hostage Negotiator's Tone of Voice (6/03/14) Jeff Thompson Crisis and hostage negotiator's are involved in situations that are tense, stressful, and anxiety-filled. In order to try to reduce the overwhelming emotions being experienced by the person they are trying to help, the negotiator's tone of voice is an important tool that can help move the conversation toward a peaceful resolution.
Employment Disputes (5/23/14) Joe Markowitz Given the huge numbers of settlements, in contrast to adjudications, we should perhaps think of the DFEH not so much as a law enforcement agency, charged with putting teeth into statutory prohibitions against discrimination, but rather as a conflict resolution service offered by the government to assist parties in dealing with all manner of employment disputes.
Can Mediation Work When Harassment is Alleged? (5/16/14) Katherine Graham Lucy and Andrew are senior professionals in a small department within a major IT company. Lucy reports to Andrew, but the relationship is an unhappy one. Andrew comes to Karl, the Head of HR, because he’s had enough of Lucy’s behaviour which he describes as difficult, negative, undermining and disloyal. He sees putting her through the Disciplinary process as his only option.
I’m Ready to Resolve! (and you’re not) (5/16/14) Vivian Scott In my line of work we talk about the importance of process. People like to know that we’re following a process; we know that everyone needs time to process, and some say it’s all about the process. Individual journeys are, well, individual and just because you’ve decided you’re ready to apologize or tell someone a thing or two doesn’t mean that they’re at a place in their own journey in which they’re willing to sit on a park bench with you and hear you out.
Workplace Violence - Part 2 (5/09/14) Ken Johnson From 9/11/2001 to 9/11/2013, approximately the same number of Americans died in the workplace due to violence as did American soldiers overseas fighting terrorists. Bullying, stress, domestic disputes, and other considerations account for this. Some researchers have suggested a new mental condition, similar to PSTD, called PTED, which workers may exhibit. Out of control catabolic (harmful) conflict poses a serious problem for both businesses and workers. This two-part series looks into this issue and suggests how ADR practitioners can work to better help businesses make the workplace safer and more productive.
Leadership is Defined as a Relationship, Not a Person (5/09/14) Maria Simpson I have always maintained that, if people weren’t so afraid of the process of disagreeing, they would have much better outcomes and more creative solutions to problems. Now, Mark Gerzon in Leading Through Conflict: How Successful Leaders Transform Differences into Opportunities, provides sound arguments for why leaders need conflict and how to use it to their advantage to build relationships and organizations. This book is well worth your time.
Workplace Violence (5/02/14) Ken Johnson From 9/11/2001 to 9/11/2013, approximately the same amount of Americans died in the workplace due to violence as did American soldiers overseas fighting terrorists. Bullying, stress, domestic disputes, and other considerations account for this. Some researchers have suggested a new mental condition, similar to PSTD, called PTED which workers may exhibit. Out of control catabolic (harmful) conflict poses a serious problem for both businesses and workers. This two-part series looks into this issue and suggests how ADR practitioners can work with other various professionals to better help businesses make the workplace safer and more productive.
Leadership is Defined as a Relationship, Not a Person (4/18/14) Maria Simpson ediation has become so closely associated with the legal system recently that its value in all areas of discussion and leadership has been overwhelmed. Gerzon points out the value of the approach in public areas of concern, education, business and international relations. Now, if we could only get people to learn how to use it.
The Importance of Mediation in Family Business Management (4/04/14) Joseph Berljawsky Managing a business can be difficult enough—but when your in-laws are the board of directors and your sister is the CEO, management of a family business can also become a contentious issue. Problems related to leadership and ownership of family businesses arise in a variety of situations. Sometimes there is a power struggle, other times people feel they have been treated unfairly or do not get enough of a say in the company.
At Work, Our Mental Models of Conflict Matter (3/21/14) Nick Redding The way we think about conflict matters. These “mental models” of conflict influence the strategies we employ when we are engaged in conflict. Our models are influenced by our personality, life experiences, and general orientation to the world around us. In turn, they impact how others will react to us, influencing the likelihood of reaching more or less constructive outcomes.