Bureau of Mediation Services

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[edit] General Information

  • Official name: Bureau of Mediation Services
  • Country: USA
  • City: St. Paul
  • Type of organization: State agency
  • Date of creation: 1969
  • Interests: Arbitration – Mediation – Conciliation - Training
  • Fields of expertise: Labour disputes

[edit] Origin

In 1939, the state legislature enacted the Minnesota Labor Relations Act as a means of peacefully settling disputes resulting from the growing size and strength of Minnesota's labor movement. The Act recognized that a sound economy is aided by a constructive labor-management environment. To administer the Act, the legislature created the Division of Conciliation, the forerunner of the present Bureau of Mediation Services. The Division was to perform four functions: conciliation/mediation, arbitration, bargaining unit determinations, and bargaining unit certification elections.

Over the years growth in the state's economy and union representation, increased complexity of contract negotiations, and growing acceptance of mediation caused the legislature to pass additional laws affecting labor-management relations. In 1969 the Division was renamed the Bureau of Mediation Services and established as a separate state agency. Enactment of the Public Employment Labor Relations Act of 1971 and its subsequent amendments have substantially expanded the functions of the Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS).

[edit] Activities

The Bureau of Mediation Services administers the following programs:

  • Mediation
  • Representation
  • Arbitrator Referral
  • Labor-Management Cooperation
  • Labor Relations Training

[edit] Mediation

The BMS provides neutral mediation of collective bargaining disputes. Such disputes arise over the negotiation of terms and conditions of a labor contract or as a result of an alleged violation of the provisions of an existing labor contract. The former is referred to as "contract mediation" and the latter as "grievance mediation."

[edit] Contract Mediation

Contract mediation usually starts when negotiations between the parties become non-productive or cease altogether. Labor or management may petition the BMS for the services of a mediator. The mediator convenes a meeting to help the parties find a basis for resolving the dispute on terms that are acceptable to both parties. The mediator examines and analyzes positions and interests to ensure that both parties have clear understanding of the issues before them. Attempts are made to identify priorities and focus the parties' effort on problems that must be solved for an agreement. The mediator works to foster an atmosphere that is conducive to idea-sharing and problem-solving.

[edit] Grievance Mediation

Grievance mediation is a significant and growing area of BMS services. Mediators assist labor and management in the resolution of disputes over contract interpretation or employee discipline which might otherwise be submitted to arbitration. Resolution of grievance disputes through the mediation process tends to improve the overall climate of labor relations and avoids the financial costs and win/lose outcome of arbitration. With a success rate of over 80%, grievance mediation has resulted in substantial cost and time savings for both management and labor as well as more stable and peaceful relationships.

[edit] Interest-Based Collective Bargaining

The Bureau's offers training and facilitation services using IBN techniques and procedures. : Bureau of Mediation Services provides a half-day overview/exploratory session designed to assist policy makers and all bargaining committee members in making their decision whether this method of bargaining is an option that both parties want to engage in. If the answer is yes, the Bureau conducts a full-day of training and skill building to prepare for interest-based bargaining. Following such training the Bureau offers facilitation of initial collective bargaining sessions with the intent that the parties eventually carry the process out without the Bureau of Mediation Services.

[edit] Arbitration

The BMS maintains a roster of up to 60 neutral arbitrators. Arbitrators selected for appointment to the BMS Roster must meet rigorous standards of relevant labor relations experience, knowledge of collective bargaining, and arbitration.

Names from the roster are forwarded to labor and management representatives upon written request. The Bureau will honor a request by any one party unless prohibited by the collective bargaining agreement or by other written agreement of the parties. Such prohibition must be brought to: Bureau of Mediation Services’ attention at the time of a request or a referral. Referrals from the list are made for contract and grievance disputes. Normal turnaround time for referrals is one-two business days.

[edit] Training

The Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services offers technical support training in a variety of area. Broadly speaking, there are two types of courses. First, there are three courses entailing at least one full day each of instruction and practical exercises. These courses are skill-building in nature and are integral parts of BMS's cooperative programs. No training sessions are currently scheduled.

[edit] Contact

Bureau of Mediation Services, 1380 Energy Lane, Suite Two, St. Paul, MN 55108

Phone: 1-800-627-3529, Toll Free: 1-800-856-5154, Fax: 651-643-3013

Email: robert.weisenburger@state.mn.us

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