DISPUTE RESOLUTION AND WORKPLACE VIOLENCE - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 51, No. 1
Tia Schneider Denenberg is an arbitrator and mediator and the 1992 recipient of the AAA’s Distinguished Service Award.
Richard V. Denenberg is a writer and editor specializing in dispute resolution and other public policy issues.
Mark Braverman, Ph.D., is a consulting psychologist who has advised the U.S. Postal Service and other major employers on violence prevention.
Susan Braverman, M.S.W., is an occupational mental health specialist and designer of crisis intervention programs.
The authors are principals in Workplace Solutions, a project of the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. This article is adapted from their forthcoming book, Fear and Loathing on the Job: Coping with Workplace Violence and Hostility (Cornell University Press).
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
The issue of violence has been “propelled to the forefront of
the workplace agenda by events like . . . the infamous series
of multiple slayings by Postal Service employees that took
the lives of more than 35 persons in the last 10 years.” The changing
environment—an increase in competitive pressures, loss of autonomy,
changing workforce demographics, victimization of employees—
has created the dynamics of a “working disaster,” say the
authors. Preventing workplace violence is one of today’s pressing
policy issues. The formulation and consistent use of methods of dispute
resolution that can deal effectively with conflict among workers
and between employees and non-employees may provide the foundation
for a lasting solution to the problem.
On Nov. 8, 1991, Thomas McIlvane, a discharged United
States Postal Service letter carrier armed with a loaded semiautomatic
rifle, entered the Main Post Office in Royal Oak,
Michigan, from an unsecured rear loading dock.1 He strode
purposefully through the building, climbing the stairs to the
management offices on the second floor. Seeking out supervisors
who had been responsible for his discipline, McIlvane fired
more than 100 rounds, hitting eight people before taking his
own life. Four of his victims, including a principal witness in his
arbitration case, died.