What are the major differences between negotiation, mediation, arbitration, litigation?

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After reading this weeks chapter, collective bargaining is essentially a negotiation and comprised of four parts, identifying the issues, researching, strategizing and setting ground rules. (Seaquist, 2015)  In my opinion of the one step that would be most important would be the identifying the issues. You need a clear cut idea of what the issues are and where you plan to go with all of this “Since the end product of collective bargaining is the actual agreement, it is essential to first identify what collective bargaining should accomplish. This is referred to as identifying the issues.”.  Without clarity you could be arguing for nothing and that is where you will wind up and no resolution to anything. Identify what is wanted and /or wrong and then as they say do the research to know where you are going with this. As I stated before, without this step, things would become primarily useless as there is no guidance as to what the main issues are. Such as in this article it describes Mandatory Bargaining Issues as “An employer doesn’t have to bargain over every conceivable employment issues. However, employers must bargain with the union over issues that are central to the employment relationship, such as wages, hours, and layoff procedures. Employers must give the union advance notice of any proposed workplace changes that involve these issues, if the union requests it. An employer who refuses to bargain or takes unilateral action in one of these mandatory bargaining areas commits an unfair labor practice.”(Guerin, L.2015).


The process of collective bargaining relies on the effective preparation to make sure everything is in place to facilitate a successful bargaining process. The key steps in the collective bargaining process are preparation, discussion, bargaining, and settlement. Each step plays signification role in determining the outcome of the bargaining process.

Preparing for collective bargaining is crucial to the successful outcome of the process. It involves selecting the members of the negotiation team. The team should comprise people who possess extensive knowledge and adequate negotiation skills.  The representatives of the union and the company take time to evaluate their goals at this stage. They should all ascertain if there is any valid reason for negotiation.  It is imperative for members of the negotiation team to understand the current state of compensation, working conditions, and promotion strategies. It is the knowledge that is crucial to the success of the bargaining process.

The most step in the collective bargaining process is the first step, which is preparation. Negotiation is characterized by discussions and proposals to enable both parties to reach a common point. Effective preparation gives the negotiation team an edge because they understand the goals of the negotiation. It prepares both physically and psychologically to handle the entire bargaining process. The union representatives or the company representatives all depend on efficient planning to be ready for negotiation. Poor preparation can make it very difficult for the representatives to produce competent proposals. It can lengthen the negotiation process or lead to no solution.


What are the major differences between negotiation, mediation, arbitration, litigation?

Each are a form of dispute resolution weather formal or informal. Despite its relationship to collective bargaining,dispute resolution is not unique to labor unions or management (Seaquist, 2015).

Name   Advantages Disadvantages  Justification

Negotiation  It allows parties to settle matters without paperwork  It does not always work  If an employee has a problem with a coworker and reports it to a supervisor who inturns talks to the employee to resolve the problem without paperwork.

Mediation  Is relatively inexpensive  It has no formal discovery process  During resolving a dispute if one can’t get access to information one must rely on “good faith” of other participants, which may not be enough.

Arbitration  Effectively resolves disputes  A lack of transparency  May be employed if an employee accuses another of sexual offenses the proceedings are held in private and both parties can agree to keep proceedings and terms private.

Litigation  A judge renders a decision based on evidence  May lead to the destruction of a relationship  If I as a supervisor had a problem with my employer a judge may consider my evidence and theirs to render a binding decision to end the dispute.


The most common method of resolving disputes is through informal negotiations which do not involve a preset structure, but rather an informal discussion of differences and conclusions on how to resolve them (Seaquist, 2015).  However, many times issues cannot be resolved informally, for a number of reasons, and a formal dispute resolution must be used.

Mediation involves a neutral third party, called the mediator, who is brought in to hear disputes and help both parties reach a resolution.  The mediator does not resolve the disputes themselves, but they are there to help the parties “arrive at a mutually satisfying conclusion” (Seaquist, 2015).  Ultimately, the parties themselves reach a final decision regarding dispute resolution and the mediator simply facilitates the process.

Arbitration also involves a third party, called an arbitrator, but unlike in mediation the arbitrator makes the final decision.  “Arbitration is more structured than mediation and involves many steps. It is similar to a trial and concludes with the arbitrator writing a decision that is considered binding on both parties. Close to 96% of all collective bargaining agreements mandate arbitration as the final step in a grievance process” (Seaquist, 2015, sec. 8.4).  It is important to note the arbitration is limited to situations in which both parties agree to use it and once both parties agree to arbitration they are legally bound to follow it through.

Litigation is a last resort when all other dispute resolution methods have failed.  “Court cases illustrate that problems not resolved through a grievance procedure may escalate and end up in court, where the matter is turned over to an outside third party—the judge and/or the jury—who will decide the matter. The result may cost millions of dollars, far outweighing the initial outlay to hire counsel” (Seaquist, 2015, sec. 8.1).

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