Federally-mandated negotiations began recently to resolve an on-going labor dispute between Boeing and striking aircraft workers in Long Beach, California. Federal mediators from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service convened the negotiations and previously provided negotiation training to both sides.
Why consider a mediator? It is often beneficial, when an impasse has been reached, for the parties to first agree on a process they believe will lead to a better result. Both lawyers and business people often resolve lawsuits and other disputes by bringing in an independent third party to either decide the issue (arbitration) or help them negotiate with each other in a more effective way (mediation).
Mediation is particularly effective in disputes involving high emotions and potential future relationshipsbetween the parties, both of which are present in the Boeing labor dispute. Skilled mediators can help parties successfully engage in almost all aspects of the negotiation process. Two factors should be evaluated before agreeing to use a mediator. Do both parties agree using a mediator will 1) increase the likelihood of achieving a “fair and reasonable” result and 2) ensure a better result than their respective best alternatives? If affirmative, mediation should be considered.