About Grievance Mediation

"American Airlines and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants have used MREP to provide a wide range of services - employee attitude surveys, dispute resolution training, facilitation of joint committees, and mediation of significant issues. In each instance, both the Company and the Union have substantially benefited from MREP assistance".

Jane G. Allen, Vice President, Flight Service
American Airlines

Grievance mediation is distinctly different from grievance arbitration. An arbitrator's role is to consider each party's evidence and arguments and then issue a final and binding decision. Usually there is a winner and a loser; rarely are both parties satisfied with the outcome. A mediator's role, in contrast, is to help adversaries find common ground; the two parties to a successfully mediated dispute will usually both consider the outcome satisfactory, even if different from what either one was trying for at the outset. A mediator's strategy is to examine every aspect of the dispute with the aim of finding and proposing possible solutions. The mediator's tactic is not only to participate in discussions between the two parties but also to meet with each party separately and shuttle back and forth with suggestions and proposals, looking for and articulating possible points of mutual interest and tradeoffs that can be made without compromising either side's core interests.

If necessary to assist the parties in reaching agreement, the mediator will provide them with an on-the-spot prediction (sometimes referred to as an "advisory opinion") as to how the grievance is likely to be resolved if it goes to arbitration.

If the parties do not accept the mediator's prediction, they are free to arbitrate. If they do, the mediator will not serve as arbitrator, and nothing said at mediation, including the mediator's prediction, can be used at arbitration.

It is rare that a company or a union will resort to arbitration after having gone to mediation. In those cases that do go from mediation to arbitration, MREP data show that the mediator's prediction of the likely outcome of arbitration is accurate in three out of four cases.

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