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LaborMate: Can't We All Just Get Along?

LaborMate Inc. began life Wednesday (Nov 15) with the promise to become the best friend an employee, union rep and the boss can have.

"We aim to save the unions and employers time, money and frustration by converting traditional labor relations processes to e-commerce applications," said Albert Anelli, LaborMate's chairman and CEO. "The grievance system is our first target."

LaborMate is a Business Service Provider (BSP) of labor relations industry solutions. It links Fortune 1000 companies, employees and their unions in a secure and neutral hosted online environment designed to enable "win-win" collaboration.

LaborMate's networked electronic dispute resolution procedure will provide an estimated minimum saving of 30% in time and money over the traditional paper-based method, Anelli said. "That's a real savings of at least $1.6 billion every year to American industry. And that doesn't include the non-union applications."

Its first software product is a subscription based dispute management, process and resolution system, which can be customized to individual union and corporate requirements. It is available over the Internet and can be accessed from any computer.

Grievance procedures are included in virtually every employer-union labor contract in the United States, and are also present in many non-union environments. The grievance process allows employees, their unions and the employers the opportunity to resolve disputes over the interpretation or application of labor contracts and other job-related disputes.

In the United States alone, 18 million union members file about 1.8 million grievances every year. Each one costs an average of $3,000 in real dollars and lost productivity. The annual cost of old-economy grievances is estimated to be $5.4 billion in the United States, and $23 billion internationally, Anelli said.

The process involves multiple, sometimes complicated steps, delays, disappointments and often failure in achieving satisfactory solution. Large numbers of people, including attorneys and other hired specialists, high costs and substantial time commitments are common. Current procedures are performed manually, with little or no data available to help management and unions resolve differences at the lowest levels, and identify opportunities for workplace improvements.

LaborMate's software will reduce all costs through faster processes and better decisions, and enhance productivity. It will also provide both unions and companies with an up-to-date grievance database and other grievance related data, customized to their individual requirements. Employees can remotely and securely track the status of their grievances.

Employers will be asked to cover the cost of the service, while unions, employees and government agencies will participate in the network free of charge.