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Grievance Mediation

What is Grievance Mediation?

Grievance mediation is a proactive, voluntary process, which utilizes a mediator from the Pennsylvania Bureau of Mediation to assist in the resolution of grievances over the application or interpretation of a collective bargaining agreement prior to its submission to an arbitrator.

Our Contract Is Silent On Grievance Mediation

Although a number of labor agreements incorporate grievance mediation into the grievance process by specifically providing for use of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Mediation, many do not. But whether contractual or ad hoc, our services are available to parties in both the public and private sectors.

The Request For Mediation

Prior to scheduling an arbitration hearing, but after all other steps of grievance process are completed, the parties should contact the Regional Office nearest them for assistance. Once a mediator is assigned to the case, he or she will contact both parties to arrange for an informal hearing of the grievance. The mediator will set a date as soon as possible, usually within two weeks of the request. The date and location of the hearing are dependent upon the availability of both parties.

The parties may have to adjust the grievance timelines to accommodate this process.

The Process

During the hearing, the mediator will normally elicit the relevant facts in a narrative fashion rather than through examination and cross-examination of witnesses. Because the mediator will allow the parties more flexibility in presenting their respective case than an arbitrator might do, strict rules of evidence will not apply. After the case has been presented, the mediator will then attempt to assist the parties in settling grievance through the use of standard mediation techniques. If the grievance cannot be mediated, or if the parties do not accept the mediator’s recommendation, the parties are free to proceed to arbitration without prejudice.

Success Rate And Type Of Issues

Since 1980, in excess of 3,000 grievances have been mediated. Of those, 97% were resolved to the satisfaction of both labor and management. Moreover, the grievances, which have been mediated, have covered a wide range of subject matter including contract interpretation, discipline, and discharge cases.

The Advantages

Cooperation – When a settlement is reached, usually both parties have a hand in the terms and conditions of that agreement. Unlike arbitration where terms and conditions are forced on the parties and often neither party is pleased with the outcome.

Speed – Grievance mediation can be accomplished quickly and effectively. You may send for a list of arbitrators and before you are ready to make a final selection, the grievance mediation hearing and a resolution to the matter in dispute may already have taken place.

Cost – There is no cost to the parties for the services of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Mediation.

Due Process – The grievant will have a sense of due process because he/she will be an active participant in presenting their side of the story and in the accomplishment of any jointly acceptable solutions.

Nonprecendent Setting – Unless otherwise stipulated, the decisions arrived at during grievance mediation do not set precedent for application of future grievances. With arbitration, the decision will be a matter of record forever.

Flexibility – the mediator has wider latitude in fashioning a solution and the parties are more readily able to modify their position.

Efficiency – The number of non-meritorious cases reaching arbitration will be lowered.