1. Q: What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?
A: ADR is an approach to disputes that allows parties to discuss and develop their interests in order to resolve the underlying issues and problems in their bargaining or grievance handling processes. This is done through facilitated problem solving process. The discussion is facilitated by a third party who is there to help the parties develop a productive dialogue.
2. Q: What is Facilitated Problem Solving?
A: Facilitated Problem Solving is a process by which the parties outline the problems to be solved, clearly define the issues, and discuss the interests associated with the issues. Using a "brainstorming" process, the parties develop options which are potential solutions.
3. Q: What are the benefits of using ADR in Labor-Management relationships?
A: ADR allows everyone to have an active part in the decision-making process. Solutions are adopted by consensus, and reflect an understanding of the interests of all parties. As a result, the solutions are tailored to the needs of the participants.
ADR encourages creative, innovative solutions, moving away from the traditional win/lose results of adversarial proceedings. ADR focuses the parties on the substance of issues, not whose turn it is to make the next proposal.
ADR resolves disputes while preserving relationships, and thereby helps create a productive working environment.
4. Q: What types of ADR services does the NMB offer?
A: The NMB offers ADR services that target contract bargaining, grievance mediation, and problem solving outside the normal contract and grievance environments. The NMB provides training to the parties and then offers facilitation to the parties to help them get started in their process. Both the training and the facilitation are free to the parties.
The NMB also conducts presentations at large union and management meetings and conferences to promote the use of Facilitated Problem Solving and Grievance Mediation and other improved problem-solving techniques.
5. Q: Is the NMB's ADR program voluntary?
A: Yes. In order for ADR services to be effective, both parties must support the effort.
6. Q: When does the NMB offer Facilitated Problem Solving and Grievance Mediation training?
A: The NMB face-to-face training is done one week per month. The dates are listed in this web site. In addition, the NMB offers online grievance mediation training that may be undertaken on the schedule of the parties, without travelling to face-to-face sessions.
7. Q: How much lead time should the parties give the NMB when they desire training?
A: If you wish to schedule face-to-face training, your request for training should be as far in advance as possible to ensure that the dates you want will be available. The NMB recommends that you call about six months in advance of your estimated first bargaining session for contract negotiations. Training should be done early because during the training you will learn new ways of preparing for bargaining.
8. Q: Who does the training and facilitation at the NMB?
A: The training and facilitation are done by ADRS staff and by NMB Mediators who deliver both traditional mediation service and ADR services. It is the NMB's desire to have the training done by experienced staff who actually do the facilitation, so they can continuously update the training with new ideas learned from the actual facilitation of Contract or Grievance Mediation cases.
9. Q: Who should attend the training?
A: All participants from both sides who will be involved in the bargaining or grievance handling process.
10. Q: Where is the training held?
A: Face-to-face training is held at the NMB offices; however, arrangements may be made to accommodate the parties under special circumstances at a mutually agreeable location other than the NMB. Online training can be taken from any Internet capable computer.
11. Q: Is there a fee for the training?
A: No. Similar training services would cost several thousand dollars. The NMB absorbs the cost but asks the parties to attend the training in Washington.
12. Q: How do I get more information or ask for assistance or training?
A: For more information about the NMB's ADR program contact Denise Hedges, Senior Mediator, ADR (202-692-5047). Copies of the ADR brochure, training dates, and a Training Request form are also located on this web site.
13. Q: What is ODR?
A: ODR (Online Dispute Resolution) is, generally, the use of technology to assist in dispute resolution. For example, parties can use web-based conferencing to prepare for bargaining sessions, to hold bargaining sessions, or to prepare contract language without having to meet face to face. Parties can use online brainstorming to discuss ideas and prepare for the development of solutions to mutually identified problems. ODR technology can also be used in face to face sessions to manage information and make the sessions more efficient. The NMB also offers an online workspace that can be configured to offer secure document sharing and joint editing of documents. One set of parties told the NMB that using technology in the sessions probably saved them "one day a week" in terms of the time it took to address all the issues.