Mediation vs. Arbitration in Palo Alto, California
Mediation vs. arbitration became a topic for debate this week in Palo Alto, California, a city located in the San Francisco Bay area. The city charter currently requires binding arbitration for labor disputes involving the city, but a proposed ordinance would repeal that provision of the charter. If that happens, Palo Alto may decide to use another form of alternative dispute resolution: mediation.
The proposed ordinance may go before voters in Palo Alto this fall. The City Council has not yet decided whether to place the issue on the ballot. Members plan to debate the matter on Monday night and will consider both a repeal of the binding-arbitration provision as well as a modification of it. In either case, the final decision would be up to voters.
Mediation vs. Arbitration a Longstanding Issue
The binding-arbitration provision of the city charter was originally approved by voters in 1978. The charter's language requires that disputes between city managers and public service unions be settled by an arbitration panel of three members: one neutral arbitration attorney as well as one representative from each side in the dispute.
The Finance Committee for the city has already considered ballot measures repealing or modifying the arbitration language. Voting unanimously, the committee decided to refer the possible measures to the city council. Along with the measures, the committee sent the council proposed language for an ordinance that would require employment mediation instead of arbitration.