“America is barreling towards a summer of strikes,” says a headline in the Seattle Times. Union workers in the post-pandemic economy are demanding their fair share of profits. The SAG and WGA actors and writers who are striking for creative rights in Hollywood may soon be joined on the picket line by UPS workers and UAW automaker workers. Contract negotiation- also known as ‘collective bargaining’- issues stalled at the bargaining table could be solved through alternative means. If labor and management agree, the disputes can be addressed through arbitration or mediation.
Arbitration is the resolution of a dispute by an independent and impartial third party. Professional arbitrators may be chosen for specific knowledge of the type of work involved in the dispute. Labor and management submit a list of arbitrators to each other and then choose one from that list. The arbitrator then listens to both sides of the argument and decides. The third-party solution is binding on both labor and management.
Mediation involves a neutral third-party negotiator who sits in on bargaining and facilitates both negotiating parties to resolve complex issues. The opinions and recommendations of the mediator are not binding; In mediation, it is up to the labor and management teams to solve their differences.
Prolonged strikes can be devastating to our fragile economy. Arbitration and mediation offer additional ways to resolve bargaining issues.
Thanks, and a tip of the hat to Wikipedia for the image.