Arbitrations serves as an alternative form of problem resolution outside of the courtroom to retrieve a decision that legally binds the parties. Using the arbitration process, both parties choose an outside expert to act as a judge. The arbitrator is a qualified professional with legal and technical background on the matter at hand. This method is often used for large commercial dispute, building and construction contracts, or employment matters.

The arbitrator usually hears evidence at an office hearing, rather than a courtroom. The process is conducted in accordance to any prior agreements that are applicable to state or federal arbitration rules. The arbitrator has authority to decide the extent to which rules of evidence will apply, unless parties have previous agreed otherwise.

Like with mediation, the arbitration process is confidential unless necessary for the winning party to file the arbitration with an appropriate court to achieve enforcement. Once it is filed with the court, it is enforceable as any other court judgement would be.

There are three main components of an arbitration process:

  1. Prehearing briefs
    • At this point, administration and union representatives have the chance to present their views and describe their evidence to the arbitrator. The briefs are used to assist the arbitrator and the two parties to focus on the issue at hand.
  1. Arbitration hearing.
    • This hearing is when both parties have the opportunity to present their case and evidence. During this hearing, it is very common to call witnesses who have observed particular events. Important evidence that may be presented by the employee or management could help prove past practices. Some examples of evidence that could be used are time cards, performance appraisals, customer or co-worker complaints, and warnings. It is possible that closing statements could take place at this hearing. This hearing is an opportunity for both parties to summarize key aspects.
  1. Arbitrator’s decision.
    • It is common for labor contracts to require that a decision be made within a certain time period. However, if no clause is in the contract, the arbitrator can make the decision within 30 minutes of the close of the hearing, or they could take a few months. When making a decision, an arbitrator will discuss:
      1. the issue presented
      2. the statement of facts
      3. the positions of the parties
  • the analysis or discussion
  • the award.

The International Trade Council’s Alternative Dispute Resolution System is available to our members at a substantially lower cost when compared to typical legal proceedings. Please contact us to learn more.