George Nicolau, B.A., J.D., and New York City's first Commissioner of Community Development (1966-1968), is Vice President of the Institute for Mediation and Conflict Resolution, and a professional labor arbitrator. Gerald W. Cormick, Ph.D., author of a number of books, reports and articles in the area of community conflict, is the Institute's Director of Research. The Institute, whose Chairman is Theodore W. Kheel and President is former New York State Senator Basil A. Paterson, is funded by the Ford Foundation.
Are the skills of the labor-management mediator transferable to racial and community disputes? In the last issue of The Arbitration Journal, if was suggested that community dispute mediators, unlike labor mediators, must be concerned primarily with settling matters "right," not lust with avoiding conflict, and that a key factor in determining "right" was the mediator's view of the settlement firms. Because of these differences, it was concluded that labor-management mediation experience has limited transferability to community disputes. The authors of this article take issue. While they agree that statutory rights should not be compromised, they point out that most community disputes do not involve legal rights." in most cases, it is not the mediator who should determine either goals or success, but the parties themselves. This, however, does not make the mediator a neutral in the classic sense. As an advocate of negotiations and shared decision- making, he, like the labor mediators of the I930's. is involved in a radical challenge to the status quo.