What Are the Restrictions on the Validity of Agreements Reached Through Mediation Services?

This article provides an overview on restrictions on validity for agreements reached through mediation services.

What Are the Restrictions on the Validity of Agreements Reached Through Mediation Services?

An agreement reached during mediation can be enforced in court, just like any other settlement agreement that resolves a charge of discrimination filed with the EEOC. If either party believes that the other party has failed to comply with a mediated settlement agreement, they should contact the ADR coordinator. The Director of Mediation Services has overall responsibility for the administration and management of the NMB mediation program in the airline and rail industries. The NMB provides legal services for the mediation of collective bargaining disputes, as well as voluntary ADR (alternative dispute resolution) programs to resolve conflicts between management and workers, such as the mediation of complaints. ADR includes training and facilitation services.

The legal authority of the NMB as a national mediator for the air and rail industries is fundamental to the public interest of maintaining an uninterrupted flow of transportation in the United States. Strikes, lockouts, and other forms of self-help in these industries can only take place after the NMB has determined that a new mediation would not be successful and after a 30-day cooling off period after the NMB has stopped mediating. An emergency meeting temporarily delays a possible work stoppage and provides recommendations on the possible resolution of the dispute. The experience of the NMB in mediation and its discretionary power to determine when mediation has been exhausted ensure that negotiation disputes rarely result in disruptions to passenger service and commercial transportation. The purpose of mediation under the Railway Labor Act is to promote the rapid and orderly resolution of collective bargaining disputes in the railway and air industries.

These disputes, called “major disputes,” involve the establishment or revision of wage rates, regulations, or working conditions. If, in the Board's view, the unresolved dispute threatens to disrupt interstate commerce “to the point of depriving any part of the country of essential transportation service,” the President may create an emergency meeting to “investigate and report on the dispute.” The Railroad Labor Act (RLA) requires workers and management to make every reasonable effort to establish and maintain collective bargaining agreements within the airline and rail industries, without disrupting air or rail transportation services. The mediation of collective bargaining agreements in these industries is within the jurisdiction of the National Mediation Board (NMB). Negotiation disputes in non-railway and non-air private sectors are handled by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (www.fmcs.gov) under the Labor and Administrative Relations Act. The representation of federal sector employees (employees of the United States government) in collective bargaining is administered by the Federal Labor Relations Authority in accordance with Title VII of the Public Administration Reform Act of 1978 (www.flra.gov). Collective Bargaining The representation of other public sector employees (state, county, and municipal government employees) varies and depends on whether there is a state or local law that allows collective bargaining. One of the purposes of RLA is to facilitate rapid and orderly resolution of collective bargaining disputes.

As provided in RLA, National Mediation Board (NMB) is responsible for providing mediation services to help parties reach an agreement if parties do not reach an agreement during direct negotiations. If parties cannot reach a voluntary agreement to establish or modify a collective bargaining agreement, either party can request mediation services from NMB. Once mediation is invoked, NMB holds mediation meetings until an agreement is reached or until NMB concludes that no agreement can be reached despite its best efforts. If NMB reaches this conclusion, it urges both parties to resolve their dispute through binding arbitration. Upon rejection of arbitration offer by either party, NMB releases parties from 30-day cooling off period.

During cooling off period, neither party can alter status quo. After 30 days, parties reach an agreement or engage in self-help. In some situations, parties may need to participate in Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) and defer any self-help action until 30 days after PEB makes its recommendation. These questions and answers are intended to provide general guidance only; they do not provide definitive determination of any mediation matter and should not be interpreted as legal opinions that can be cited in any administrative, legal, or arbitral proceeding. The purpose of these Ethics Guidelines is to provide basic guidance to JAMS mediators on ethical issues that may arise during or related to mediation process. Mediation is voluntary, non-binding process that uses neutral third party to help parties reach solution to their dispute that benefits both parties.

A mediator helps parties reach resolution by facilitating communication, promoting understanding, helping them identify and explore issues, interests, and possible bases for agreement; in some matters mediator helps parties evaluate likely outcome in court or arbitration if they cannot reach agreement through mediation. These Guidelines are national in scope and are necessarily general; they are not intended to replace applicable state or local laws or regulations. All JAMS mediators should be aware of applicable state laws or court rules that may apply to mediations they are conducting; if these Guidelines are incompatible with such statutes or rules mediators must comply with applicable law. The Center has also established recommended filing agreement for referral of existing dispute to mediation under WIPO Mediation Rules. In order to increase mediation opportunities EEOC expanded charges for which mediation can be eligible for mediation; now available in conciliation phase after judgment of discrimination has been handed down in appropriate cases. Mediator must enjoy trust of both parties; therefore it is crucial that both parties fully agree to appointment of proposed person as mediator. Mediator must ensure any advertising or other type marketing carried out on their behalf is truthful.

WIPO Mediation Regulations....