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Unformatted text preview: C Y ac- ) 79 DISPUTE RESOLUTION IN . THE NON-UNION ENVIRONMENT A N E V O L U T I O N T O W A R D INTEGRATED SYSTEMS FOR C O N F L I C T M A N A G E M E N T ? Mary Rowe I. Introduction D ispute resolution within the nonunion workplace in the United States varies greatly from employer to employer. There are many small companies with no designated dispute resolution mechanisms. There are employers with dispute resolution procedures restricted to specialized situations such as harassment and discrimination, and some that will deal only with a formal grievance . Many employers are now experimenting with "appropriate dispute resolution" (ADR) mechanisms, such as mediation and arbitration, often using neutrals outside the workplace,' Much of the interest in these ADR mechanisms is oriented externally, toward those rare disputes that are particularly serious and will otherwise go outside the workplace to a government agency or to the courts. There is also an increasing number . of employers with extensive internal systems-which include internal ADR options-designed to deal with all the different kinds of conflict in a workplace : These systems constitute a major change from a prior focus on one or another grievance channel .. There is no reliable estimate of the number of nonunion employers that have instituted internal dispute resolution procedures because the subject is poorly defined and observers discuss conflict management in different ways .2 Even within a given firm, dispute resolution procedures are sometimes well described and understood and sometimes are not. What is clear is the fact that there has been a great deal of change over the past thirty years . One study$ published in 1989 found that half or more of large employers had instituted some kind of grievance process for at least some nonunion employees, and that at least one-fifth of those used third-party arbitration as a last C step in their formal procedure . The United States General Accounting Office reported in 1995 that "almost all employers with 100 or more employees use one or more ADR approaches" and in 1994, Organizational Resources Counselors reported that 53 percent of a survey of "ninety-six leading companies" used an ADR program to resolve employment-related issues .+ My own consulting experience indicates that many organizations are now reviewing their dispute resolution structures and that many are moving toward a systems approach . Some of these structures and systems appear to be working well, but in many small and large firms the mechanisms that exist are inadequate . For ex- imple, they may fail to cover one or another group ofemployees or fail to in- :lude managers and professionals . In some companies, the dispute resolution structures are treated cavalierly by management or are effectively unknown to he workforce they are supposed to serve ....
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- Spring '10