PMA Unveils New Dispute-Resolution Program

July 1999
by Florrie Binford Kichler

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Beginning August 1, 1999, PMA will offer a new Dispute Resolution Program with the help of a member publisher. This member is a trained arbitrator and wants to “give something back” to the organization that helped him in his company’s formative years.

The program is designed to assist PMA members who are in trade disputes with printers, distributors, vendors, and others in the book publishing industry, and who have made a good faith effort to resolve the dispute. The program’s aim is to resolve problems faster than might have been possible otherwise and to eliminate the need for an expensive legal process. Another broad goal is to educate PMA members through resolution of common problems.

The Dispute Resolution Program was organized by Philip Tamoush of Torrance, California, publisher of Oakwood Publications. Tamoush has been a full-time mediator and arbitrator in labor-management for 25 years, resolving disputes between union members and employers and between consumers and corporations as a “private judge” and, often, in an ombudsman role.

Here is how the Dispute Resolution Program will work:

  1. Asking for Help. Members may contact the PMA office in Manhattan Beach, California, and they will be sent a brochure explaining the program along with an application form that must be filled out describing the dispute and the efforts that have been made to resolve it. In some instances, PMA Executive Director Jan Nathan and other PMA staff members may offer informal suggestions, as they do now, that could result in an immediate resolution of the dispute without further action. 
  2. Intervention. If the dispute is accepted into the program, information about the case from the member’s point of view will be forwarded to a three-member committee of past PMA presidents who, on a rotating basis, will intervene in the cases. The past presidents, who are volunteers, will talk with the member publisher and may make one or two informal telephone calls to the other party in the dispute in hopes of working out a quick resolution. The past presidents are Curt Matthews, Chicago Review Press; Jerry Marino, The Marino Group; and Gary Moselle, Craftsman Book Company. 
  3. Mediation. If intervention is not successful, and if both parties agree, a mediator will be assigned. The mediator will contact the parties, brief them about the mediation process, solicit their cooperation, and make a pro-active effort to mediate and reach a settlement. A mediation session will be held, either in person, or by phone. Legal representatives will be excluded. However, the mediation effort will be abandoned if no settlement is reached quickly.Parties to mediation will be obligated to sign a confidentiality agreement, and only bare statistics of the outcome of mediated cases will be reported publicly. The mediator will be a professional dispute-resolution expert with no connection to PMA or to any of the parties in the dispute.
  4. Arbitration. If no resolution is found through mediation, and both parties agree, the case will go to an arbitration program in which a hearing will be held, evidence and statements presented, and at which attorneys may be present. This usually will involve a face-to-face meeting, although an arbitration hearing may take the form of a teleconference.The arbitration can be binding or non-binding. After hearing the facts, the arbitrator will make an award. If the arbitration is binding, the award will carry the force of law in federal and many state jurisdictions.Arbitrators, while expected to be somewhat knowledgeable about book publishing, will have no formal relationship to PMA or the parties. This process will also be private, however the results are to be published in the form of an award and will be summarized in the newsletter.
  5. Reporting Results of the Program. All neutral parties in the process will submit a brief closing report upon completion of the dispute process. The PMA staff will prepare an annual report with statistics.

The new Dispute Resolution Program is available at no cost to members through the mediation stage. PMA will supply a mediator and pay fees associated with mediation. If the dispute advances beyond mediation, the parties will be expected to share an expense of about approximately $500 per day for arbitration.

Philip Tamoush worked with the PMA member services committee and the Boards of Director to develop the new program. He has agreed to oversee it for the first six to 12 months. As part of what he describes as his “personal volunteer outreach,” Tamoush has acted as an arbitrator in the Ford Motor Co. consumer-dealer program, the Los Angeles County Consumer-Attorney Fee Dispute Program, and similar programs. Oakwood Publications has a list of 25 titles, two of which have won Benjamin Franklin awards.

Contact the PMA office at pmaonline@aol.com for a copy of a brochure describing the Dispute Resolution Program. For more information about mediation and arbitration, contact Phil Tamoush at oakwoodpub@juno.com.

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