What is a “communications black-out” and why did our mediator impose it?

     Because our contract negotiations are in mediation, the National Mediation Board is overseeing our

talks. The Federal Mediator assigned to our case actually sits in on all bargaining sessions and also holds

separate meetings with each side. This person controls our meeting schedules – tells us when we meet

and he can cancel our session(s) also.

 

    Because we are at the very end of the process, and it did not conclude at this last session, the mediator

has told each side that we are not allowed to publish or talk about specifics of exactly what terms are

being discussed at the bargaining table (e.g. specifics about pay rates, insurance, scheduling, bonus, etc).

The mediator does this because positions on either side may change in the final days of talks and if we

published our positions, then we would possibly be “locked-in” to them. A communication black-out is a

common practice at this stage in negotiations and should not be considered a “bad” sign. At this stage

in the process, positions and the general potential of a deal can change very quickly. To put out one

message and then have that situation change suddenly would be confusing.

 

It is important to note that the communications black-out was imposed on BOTH the Company and the

Union.

We will be meeting again in Washington, DC on March 16-18 at the offices of the National Mediation

Board.