Pennsylvania readers may have heard that Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority workers, which includes train, bus and trolley operators, are likely to go on strike in the near future due to a contract dispute with the transportation authority. The dispute, according to the union, involves the issue of pensions and other important matters.
Because of the confidentiality aspect of mediation, it is a great opportunity for parties to lay out their positions and negotiate with one another in a relatively non-threatening environment. We say relatively because, while confidentiality is an important aspect of mediation, it is not an absolute privilege. Under Pennsylvania law, communications and documents utilized in the mediation process generally cannot later be used in court if the mediation breaks down. This gives parties the opportunity to be open and honest with one another in sharing information so that they are better able to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution.
A form of alternative dispute resolution, arbitration is a widely used means of handing disputes outside the adversarial setting of the court system. Arbitration is used for a variety of types of legal disputes as a way to avoid the expenses and other burdens of litigation.