The Arbitration of Work and Family Conflicts
As of March 2002, the American workforce incIuded 49.9 million employees with children under the age of 18 (BLS, 2002). Considering the growing percentage of two-wage earner and single-parent families, it is apparent that the employment obligations of millions 01' workers must be balanced against their family responsibilities. In many cases, employees will be able to successfully harmonize and satisfy these competing constraints. Yet in other situations, workers may be confronted with circumstances where they must choose between two difficult options: subordinating the welfare of their family to that of the workplace or conversely the interests of the workplace to that of their family. At the same time, employers are placed in the precarious position of responding to employee requests for the accommodation offamily needs while maintaining workplace efficiency. Within the framework of grievance arbitration, these issues materialize where firms discipline employees who have refused management directives in order to address and respond to family obligations.