Impasses Mediation and Strikes


Collective bargaining situation that occurs when the parties are not able to move further toward settlement usually because one party is demanding more than the other will offer.


Intervention in which a neutral third party tries to assist the principals in reaching agreement

Fact finder

A neutral party who studies the issues in a dispute and makes a public recommendation for reasonable settlement


The most definitive type of third party intervention in which the power to determine and dictate the settlement terms:

In collective bargaining an impasse occurs when the parities are not able to move further toward settlement. An impasse usually occurs because one party is demanding more than the other will offer. Sometimes an impasse can be resolved through a third party is a disinterested person such as a mediator or arbitrator. If the impasse is not resolved in this way the union may call a work stoppage or strike to put pressure in management.

Third party involvement

Negotiators use three types of third party interventions to overcome an impasse mediation fact finding and arbitration with mediation a neutral third party tries to assist the principals in reaching agreement. The mediator usually holds meetings with each party to determine where each stands regarding its position, and then uses this information to find common ground for further bargaining. The mediator is always a go between and does not have the authority to dictate terms or make concessions. He or she communicates assessments of the likelihood of a strike, the possible settlement packages available and the like.

In certain situations as in a national emergency dispute a fact finder may be appointed. A fact finder is a neutral party who studies the issues in a dispute and makes a public recommendation for reasonable settlement. Presidential emergency fact finding boards have successfully resolved impasse in certain critical transportation disputes.

Arbitration is the most definitive type of third party intervention, because the arbitrator often has the power to determine and dictate the settlement terms. Unlike mediation and fact finding arbitration can guarantees to an impasse. With binding arbitration both the parties are committed to accepting the arbitrator’s award. With nonbinding arbitration they are not. Arbitration may also be voluntary or compulsory (In other words, imposed by a government agency) In the United States voluntary binding arbitration is the most prevalent.

There are two main topics of arbitration. Interest arbitration always centers on working out a labor agreement; the parties use it when such agreements do not yet exist or when one or both parties are seeking to change the agreement. Rights arbitration really means contract interpretation arbitration. It usually involves interpreting existing contract terms for instance when an employees questions the employer’s right to have taken some disciplinary action.

Sources of Third Party assistance

Various public and professional agencies make arbitrators and mediators available. For example, the American Arbitration association (AAA) represents and provides the services of thousand of arbitrators and mediators to employers and union requesting their services. The US government’s Federal mediation and Conciliation Service provides both arbitrators and mediators. For example, its office of arbitration Services maintains a roster of arbitrators qualified to hear and decide disputes over the interpretation or application of collective bargaining agreements and provides the parties involved with lists and panels of arbitrators In fiscal year 2006, its arbitration panels decided about 2,400 cases. In addition most states provide arbitrators and mediation services, For example New York State’s Employment Relations Board provides mediation services to assist in settling grievance disputes and in the collective bargaining process.


A strike is a withdrawal of labor, and there are four main types of strikes. An economic strike results for a failure to agree on the terms of a contract. Unions call unfair labor practice strikes to protest illegal conduct by the employer. A wild cat strike is an unauthorized strike occurring during the term of a contract. A sympathy strike occurs when one union strikes in support of the strike of another union. For example in sympathy with employees of the Detroit News, Detroit Free press and USA Today The United auto workers enforced a nearly six year boycott that prevented the papers from being sold at Detroit area auto plants cutting sales by about 20,000 to 30,000 copies a day.

The number of major work stoppages (those involving 1,000 workers or more) peaked at about 400 per year between 1965 and 1975 ad today average around 20.

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