One of the hazards faced by labor relations professionals is that they frequently find themselves reading articles or attending conferences at which the same furrows with regard to negotiations, mediation, arbitration, fact finding, and the like are plowed over and over again.
Miriam Mills, in her "Containing Conflict: Teleconferencing and Labor Relations," should be applauded at least for creative thinking in connection with labor negotiations. I am afraid, however, that I can give her only two weak cheers. I have serious doubt that her proposal calling for the application of teleconferencing to labor negotiations in the public sector contains any substantial advantages for most governments and the unions representing their employees.
The great majority of public sector negotiation takes place at the school district, municipal, county, and village level. Thus, Dr. Mills's suggestion that "Teleconferencing could help both public agencies and unions prepare for negotiations from dispersed locations without movement from the work site . . ." really would be applicable only to a very small percentage of public sector cases. Even where statewide bargaining is involved, the negotiators rarely have need to meet repeatedly with individuals at the various work sites. Even if some conferring among geographically dispersed persons should be necessary, nothing more sophisticated than the ordinary telephone should be required.