Assisted by a mediator, a union and employer seek to resolve grievances without resorting to binding arbitration. Grievance mediation is typically used only after all other pre-arbitration steps in the collective bargaining process have been exhausted.
The process works very much the same way as collective bargaining mediation. The mediator meets with both parties in joint sessions and separate caucuses. The mediator attempts to determine the real interests that underlie the stated positions in the grievance. The mediator then attempts to bring labor and management to a solution that will satisfy the interests of both parties.
Proceedings before the mediator are informal, quick, and inexpensive. Several cases may be disposed of in a single day. In grievance mediation, preparation and presentation are substantially reduced and no court reporters, transcripts, or lengthy written awards are necessary. Facts in the case are brought out in narrative form and the rules of evidence do not apply. Additionally, the process is private and confidential. Both parties agree up front that offers of settlement may not be used in any arbitration proceeding.
Why use grievance mediation?
In addition to providing a quick and inexpensive resolution, grievance mediation provides the parties a means to find a mutually acceptable solution to the problem. In mediation, a creative remedy may be identified since the focus is on problem solving rather than traditional adversarial positions and rights oriented, win/lose advocacy.
How do I request grievance mediation?
If your collective bargaining agreement provides for mediation, a formal written request from the labor organization and the employer should be forwarded to:
Nyle Mullins, Chief Mediator
Kentucky Labor Cabinet
Employment Standards, Apprenticeship, and Mediation
1047 US HWY 127 South
Frankfort, KY 40601.
Your request should contain a brief description of the issue(s) to be mediated.
What are the guidelines for grievance mediation?
The Office of Labor-Management Relations and Mediation can suggest guidelines, however, the parties must agree on appropriate rules for their specific situation. Some suggested rules include, but are not limited to:
The grievant is entitled to be present at the mediation session. If the parties reach agreement through this process, the grievant should sign the agreement to indicate acceptance. The mediator has no authority to compel resolution of the grievance.
If no settlement is reached at mediation, the parties are free to arbitrate. Nothing said or done by the mediator may be referred to at arbitration, and nothing said or done by either party at mediation may be used against it by the other party at arbitration. If no settlement is reached, the mediator may provide the parties, either in separate or joint sessions, an oral advisory opinion unless both parties agree that no such opinion need be provided.
Resolutions reached through mediation may be nonprecedential.