In 1995, the State 0f New York enacted legislation authorizing the establishment of a workers' compensation alternative dispute resolution pilot program for the unionized sector of the construction industry. Collective bargaining agreements could establish an alternative dispute resolution process for resolving claims (including but not limited to mediation and arbitration), use of an agreed managed care organization or list of authorized providers for medical treatment that constitutes the exclusive source of all medical and related treatment, supplemental benefits, return-to-work programs, and vocational rehabilitation programs. The legislation also directed the School ofIndustrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University (ILR) to "evaluate compliance with state and federal due process requirements provided in the collective bargaining agreements authorized by this act, and the use, costs and merits of the alternative dispute resolution system established pursuant to this act."
In response to this legislative mandate, ILR reviewed the research previously conducted on alternative dispute resolution (ADR), generally, and in workers' compensation. This included examining the purported advantages and disadvantages of ADR, the prevalence of ADR, and published statistical or anecdotal evidence regarding the impact of ADR. ILR created a research design for claimant-level and project-level analyses, and developed data collection instruments for these analyses that included an injured worker survey for ADR claimants and claimants in the traditional (statutory)workers' compensation system, an Ombudsman's log, a manual of data elements pertaining to ADR and comparison group claimants, and interview questions for ADR signatories and other officials.
The findings in this report draw upon a comparison of claimant-level, descriptive statistics (averages) for injured workers in the ADR and traditional (statutory) workers' compensation system; the results of more sophisticated, statistical analyses of claimant-level data; and project-level information (including, but not limited to, interviews with ADR signatories and dispute resolution officials).