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Abstract: This disguised case concerns contract negotiations between the town of Barkfield, Massachusetts, and its ten--officer police local. After an impasse was reached, the Joint Labor management Committee, a state--appointed standing committee with jurisdiction over all public safety disputes, sought to mediate the dispute through a variety of novel and conventional techniques. Part A provides background on Barkfield and the principal actors in the negotiations, and describes the various, ultimately unsuccessful, efforts at mediation. At the end of the case, the dispute is submitted for conventional arbitration by the committee. Part B presents the arbitrator's decision, portions of which are included in exhibits. Part C presents the reactions of all the parties to the arbitrator's decision.
Learning Objective: This case has two general purposes. First, it illustrates a number of common issues in public sector labor relations, especially in local public safety services. Second, it describes a dispute resolution mechanism which, in Massachusetts, has been used as a substitute for final and binding arbitration.