The Effectiveness of Mediation in Public Sector Arbitration Systems - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 39, No. 2
Ronald Hoh is an arbitrator and director of Mediation and Conciliation Services for the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board.
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
Conventional theoretical wisdom regarding the effectiveness of mediation when the final step of an impasse procedure is arbitration holds that the availability of arbitration adversely affects the success of mediation. It is alleged that rather than focusing the parties' attention on avenues of voluntary agreement, such systems shift that attention toward the ultimate arbitration step.
This article examines the effectiveness of mediation in the Iowa public sector, where the final impasse step is final offer, issue-by-issue arbitration. The author finds little support for any of the usual criticisms concerning the effectiveness of mediation in arbitration systems. Instead, he finds the mediation stage to be extremely successful in resolving impasses and examines a number of potential reasons for its success.
The advent and dramatic expansion of collective bargaining among public employees has hastened the enactment of numerous state public sector collective bargaining statutes during the past 15 years. Such statutes have generated a myriad of approaches for the resolution of the inevitable impasses that arise in public sector negotiations—approaches that may include mediation, fact finding, arbitration, the right to strike, or some combination thereof. The effectiveness of these dispute settlement procedures and the experience under them have been the target of intense examination.
Such analyses have generally focused on the use of the final arbitration step of the impasse procedure and the effect of arbitration on the willingness of the parties to resolve their impasses voluntarily prior to its implementation. Little, however, has been written about either the experience under the Iowa public sector collective bargaining law or the effectiveness of "intermediate impasse steps" in the presence of further impasse steps, that is, the effectiveness of mediation when the final impasse step is arbitration.