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Grievance Meditation in the Coal Industry: A Field Experiment, Industrial and labor Relations Review


This article describes an experiment in the mediation of grievances that recently took place during two six-month periods in four districts of the United Mine Workers of America. Eighty-nine percent of the 153 grievances taken to mediation during the experiment were resolved before arbitration. This success rate did not appear to be influenced by whether one or both parties had to consent to take a grievance to mediation, or by the identity of the mediator or the nature of the issue, although no discharge grievances were mediated in the experiment. Instead, the key to settlement appeared to be the parties' willingness to negotiate. Cost savings attributable to mediating instead of arbitrating the 153 cases were nearly $100,000, and the average grievance was resolved three months sooner in mediation than it would have been had it gone to arbitration. Most of the participants in the experiment had favorable attitudes toward the process, regardless of the outcome of their particular case.




Jeanne Brett

Date Published



Brett, Jeanne. 1983. Grievance Meditation in the Coal Industry: A Field Experiment. Industrial and labor Relations Review. 37(1): 49-69.


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