Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Dept of Correction Mediation Capacity Building Project

Project Summary

MA Department of Correction (DOC) Meet to Resolve Mediation Program

The MA Department of Correction (DOC) has the largest workforce in the Executive Branch of the Commonwealth with an average workforce 5,150. In 2009, a workplace climate survey was administered and approximately 1,400 employees responded.  Many employees reported they were experiencing high levels of workplace conflict, discrimination and/or harassment. In response, DOC leadership sought MOPC’s assistance to work with DOC’s Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity to design a comprehensive Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program called the “Meet to Resolve Mediation Program”.  The goal of this program is to strengthen communication and to build internal capacity at DOC for constructive conflict resolution and reduce costs associated with processing grievances and civil rights complaints agency-wide.  To create the initial program design, MOPC staff met and obtained input from staff of each of the DOC divisions, union officials, legal counsel and DOC senior staff.  With this input, MOPC took the lead in creating the framework for the program including drafting program policy memoranda, creating a program manual, setting program goals/objectives, developing procedures, forms, position descriptions and a program implementation plan.

  In 2011, MOPC assisted the DOC in obtaining a federal grant to implement and sustain the Meet to Resolve Program.  The grant allowed for the establishment of a joint labor-management committee to oversee and champion the program.  A cross-section of 25 DOC employees were selected through a competitive process to participate in a 30-hour basic mediation skills training which was led by an MOPC training team. We subsequently designed and delivered a “train-the-trainer” program for these same 25 employees which would allow DOC to reduce its reliance on outside consultants while increasing its internal capacity to effective diagnose and resolve conflict. To evaluate the effectiveness of the Meet to Resolve Program, MOPC has assisted DOC in developing an evaluation plan and a set of performance indicators, including number of new grievances/complaints filed, and cost savings associated with complaint processing, litigation, settlements, and judgments.  This information will provide DOC with the data needed to continue to advocate for program funding and expansion.