Guild proposes mediator for talks; NY Times management accepts
A day after Times negotiators walked out of talks and told the Guild they would come to the next bargaining session with their “final offer” on print and digital contracts, management agreed on Wednesday to a Guild suggestion to bring a well-known mediator into the bargaining process.
At a meeting earlier this afternoon, the Guild negotiating committee endorsed the idea, suggested by New York Newspaper Guild President Bill O’Meara, to propose to the company that arbitrator/mediator Martin Scheinman be brought in. Later in the day that proposal was accepted by The Times. Company negotiators also said that, in light of this agreement, they would hold off on making a final contract offer, which they had planned to present on Thursday morning.
The role of a mediator is different from that of an arbitrator. A mediator cannot force a settlement, but instead uses persuasion to try to bring the parties to agreement. A mediator generally does not come up with his own proposals, but rather tries to push the parties closer to their respective positions. Neither side is bound by the mediator’s suggestions or proposals. And in the end, any tentative agreement that emerges from mediation will need the approval of the Guild bargaining committee and the ratification of a majority of Times Guild members before it becomes a contract.
As of late this afternoon, the Guild and The Times were coordinating schedules to begin the mediation process based on Scheinman’s availability. Scheinman has been involved in recent mediations and arbitrations involving The Times, and his abilities are respected by both the Guild and the company. It is the belief of both sides that his involvement heightens the potential of reaching a fair and mutually acceptable agreement.