[Excerpt] There is a contradiction at the heart of dispute resolution in the contemporary workplace. The locus of determination of the terms and conditions of employment, including processes for the resolution of disputes concerning these terms and conditions, has become increasingly decentralized to the organizational level, at the same time that long term attachment of employee careers to these same organizations has been diminishing. The result is a disconnect between the nature of current employment disputes, which increasingly involve issues relating to entry to and exit from relationships with organizations, including questions of the formation and content of employment contracts, and dispute resolution procedures that assume membership within an organizational community and acceptance of its rules and norms.
In this paper, I examine these two trends in employment dispute resolution and explore the tensions between them. I begin by discussing the increase in organizational ordering of terms and conditions of employment and how it is reflected in the development of organizationally focused dispute resolution mechanisms. Then I turn to examining examples of types of growing employment conflicts that revolve around issues relating to the formation and termination of employment relationships. Following this, I conclude by discussing how dispute resolution procedures and systems might be re-envisioned to better fit a world in which standard long-term employment contracts with a single organization are no longer the paradigmatic model.