Corrections or additions?
This column was prepared for the June 6, 2001 edition of U.S. 1
Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Between the Lines
To the Editor:
As president of the New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators
(NJAPM) and a trial lawyer, I read with genuine interest Kathleen
McGinn Spring’s on-target review of recent legal developments in
employment arbitration. Without question, the U.S. Supreme Court has
given a green light to mandatory arbitration clauses covering most, if
not all, employment disputes. Given the vagaries of the U.S. economy
and management’s general discomfort with — bordering on hostility
towards — the unpredictability of court cases and jury verdicts, we
can expect a lot more activity in the arbitration arena.
And how unfortunate that will prove to be, unless managers and
employees first stop and consider working out all such workplace
disputes with the aid of a trained professional mediator. Private
sector mediation of workplace disputes is purely voluntary, private,
inexpensive, non-binding, and fast. Most importantly, it works, and it
works better than any other process around.
Almost all workplace disputes involve the push-and-pull of emotional
factors, dressed up to look like money and performance issues. While
workplace disputes occur in all shapes and sizes, as mediators and
lawyers who promote mediation, we often deal with long-term employment
situations, where displacement comes with a lot of upset.
A workplace termination is akin to the sudden break-up of a marriage.
In these settings, it is critically important to get the parties
talking about their underlying interests. Employees often look for a
sign of management’s respect, a dignified exit with some assurance of
financial support as they seek other employment. Managers often look
for a peaceful exit, with no disruption of ongoing employment
relationships, and a way to cut losses for reasonable dollars.
While employment lawyers and HR personnel are sometimes able to work
these matters out on their own, I have seen far too many examples of
broken negotiations, disappointed employees, and angry managers. These
are the cases that head for the courthouse or, increasingly, the
So, you may ask, what’s wrong with that picture? Since both public
judges and private arbitrators have final, binding, decisional
authority, once parties enter either of those processes, both sides
are buying themselves a "win-lose" outcome, when what they really want
is a "win-win". An unhappy party to a litigated or arbitrated outcome,
whether manager or employee, will continue to make noise, consciously
or unconsciously seek to undermine the outcome, or fail to heal and
move on as quickly as they might if the decision were mutually
reached, with the help of a skilled facilitator.
While I applaud U.S. 1 for highlighting the arbitration arena, I
strongly urge your readers in need of workplace dispute resolution to
consider mediation as a first option, and hire mediation conversant
lawyers from the very start. If matters end up in litigation or
arbitration, the parties have lost nothing. On the other hand, if the
parties start out in litigation or arbitration, they are not only in
for a difficult, expensive, and time consuming ride, but they may find
it impossible to reach common ground in the later innings.
Hanan M. Isaacs, A.P.M., President
New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators
Isaacs moderates a panel, "How We Will Make a Living at ADR" at a
New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education conference on
Friday, June 15, at 8:30 a.m. at the Woodbridge Sheraton in Iselin.
Cost: $210. Call 732-214-8500.
The following letter was sent to Executive Director James C. Amon and
the commissioners of the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission:
from traffic, noise, and pollution for the thousands of people — from
infants in backpacks to the elderly with canes — who enjoy it
throughout the year. The towpath is perfect for walking, jogging,
bicycling, and cross country skiing. Many use the canal for canoeing
and kayaking. The park provides a habitat for at least 160 species of
birds, 90 of which nest within the park.
Your website (www.dandrcanal.com) touts Kingston as one of the prime
"Points of Interest" for those visiting the Canal Park and it notes
that it is "one of the more heavily visited spots along the canal."
However, the development, "Villas at Tuscany," proposed for
construction in Plainsboro, just next to Kingston, would be within
1,000 feet of the canal. This three-story rental apartment complex,
along with the widening of Mapleton Road and the change in
configuration of the intersection of Mapleton Road and Seminary Drive
will compromise the integrity and beauty of the Delaware and Raritan
Your charge as D&R Commissioners is "to prepare and administer a land
use regulatory program that will protect the Canal Park from the
harmful impacts of new development in central New Jersey." It is
your mandate to monitor whether "new development could have drainage,
visual or other ecological impact on the Canal Park."
"Villas at Tuscany" will destroy the sight-line from the canal and
its towpath. The traffic from this development, along with that
expected from the proposed development of a 2.9 million square foot
office complex just to its north, will increase pollution.
The proposed widening of Mapleton Road (a portion of which today
nearly touches the canal) and the reconfiguration of the intersection
of Mapleton Road and Seminary Drive will encourage more through
traffic — including trucks — leading to increased runoff and
pollution of the canal water as well as increased noise and fumes for
those walking or boating within the park.
On a recent walk along the towpath, I saw countless turtles (many
sunning on logs and several swimming in the canal), two snakes (a
small one hitching a ride on one about two feet long), goslings
paddling after their parents, birds singing in the trees and brush.
The D&R Canal Park provides us a precious habitat.
I urge you to deny permission for construction of "Villas at Tuscany"
in its current form and to deny permission for the changes in
configuration for Mapleton Road. It is your mandate to protect the
Delaware and Raritan Canal Park.
15 Wycombe Way
Thank you for the article, "A Shop Of Your Own, First Try It Out." It
is well written and should help some of your readers avoid costly
mistakes when going into business. I advised the Mercer/Middlesex
Small Business Development Center about it.
Martin M. Mosho
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