Juriscribe was kind enough to email us a guest post on the topic of forced arbitration and mediation and the brewing scandal in the for profit mediation industry that has finally attracted the attention of Congress. When I think of mediation I think of the MID post Katrina mediation program which was effectively controlled by the insurers and was described by most of the policyholder particiapants I know as demeaning:
“People get worn out,” he says. “They get tired of fighting and give up. Eventually, they take whatever they are offered.”
Hunter’s assertion is perfectly illustrated by the story of Pam Collins and Joy Panks, co-owners of the Twin Lights gift shop in Old Town Bay St. Louis.
“Our insurance company owed us $172,000,” Panks says. The last time she and Collins drove to Hattiesburg for mediation, a representative from their insurance company met them with a check for $55,000. The check was physically placed on the negotiating table, and the two women were given three chances to accept it. “The fourth time, they said they were going to pick it up,” Panks says.
“We were begging,” Collins confesses, thinking back over all the company’s previous offers. The bargaining started at $30,000, then went up to $40,000. “They said $55,000 was the last offer.”
FORCED MEDIATION AND ARBITRATION: GENUINE IDEA OR CORPORATIONS JUST HIJACKING THE PUBLIC SECTOR AGAIN
“Privatization” is a euphemism for big, for-profit corporations in the private sector capturing the right to sell and operate traditional government services from the public sector, and billing it all back to us at grossly profitable rates. Used to be corporations had to keep their greedy-assed tentacles off government services, cause that’s what we pay taxes for. The idea of Wall Street running prisons . . . unthinkable! Not so fast, Bush hadn’t run yet. When Dubya got in, for-profits went on an 8 year privatization binge, grabbing every government service they could get their French-cuffed arms around. Privatization was just one of the profit plays opened up by the Chaney-Bush-Rove triumvirate, and was of course payback for Bush pay-to-play donations, a/k/a political bribes. Today, for-profits own and/or manage federal and state prisons (CCA and Wackenhut); run and control FEMA (CSC); own and control city water systems; and are pushing to get interstate roads and highways in the bag. The sales pitch: private business can do it cheaper and better. (Right, let’s contract out our next war to Blackwater and KBR).
What’s all this got to do with arbitration and mediation? Well, for many years an outfit called American Arbitration Association (AAA) has been greasing political palms, hoping to privatize the justice and court system and turn into a billing bonanza, like the prison thing. They got a good sales pitch too: “folks, if you’re pro-business, we gotta stop the lawyers, courts and juries, and we gotta get mandatory mediation-arbitration clauses in every kind of contract, and even where we don’t have one, we gotta get the courts to first push everybody through mediation-arbitration.” First thing the insurance companies love about this AAA tune is the melodic line “bye-bye constitutional right to jury trial.” Second, “how sweet it is” that people gotta pay twice. They’ve already paid to build the courthouse and salary the judge and staff to work there, now they gotta pay AAA’s exorbitant hourly rates for all this stuff again. That ought’a teach ’em to screw with big business! (Incidentally, in Mississippi some of these same folks are right now pushing to invent a new court, God forbid, the so-called “business court”). Continue reading “Juriscribe tackles arbitration/mediation and exposes the sleazy underbelly of Justice Inc.”