To the Editor:

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

arbitrator’s office.

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.

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To the Editor:

The following letter was sent to Executive Director James C. Amon and

the commissioners of the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission:

The Delaware and Raritan Canal Park is an easily accessible

escape

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

Canal.

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.

Sandra Shapiro

15 Wycombe Way

Princeton Junction

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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