An Analysis of the Arbitration Clause in Collective Bargaining Agreements in Higher Education - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 39, No. 4
Joel M. Douglas is director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at Baruch College of the City University of New York. He is also a mediator, fact-finder, and arbitrator.
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
The arbitration clause in higher education labor agreements is crucial to both the contract administration process and the maintenance of harmonious employment relationships. While there is no model clause that meets the needs of all unionized campuses, analogous language exists among the contracts analyzed in this study. This article examines 129 arbitration clauses selected from the Baruch College NCSCBHEP BRAIN Data Bank and sets forth the findings with respect to 11 components. Included are such elements as the frequency of binding arbitration, grievance time limits, scope of arbitrability, exclusions from the grievance procedure, limits on the power of the arbitrator, and the selection of arbitrators. An analysis of the academic judgment issue in academe is also presented. Similarities between arbitration in higher education and the industrial sector are explored.
Arbitration of faculty grievances on unionized campuses has produced a body of case law, practice, customs, and rules that, upon examination, is similar to that found in virtually every other unionized employment relationship. Although there are distinctions between arbitration as practiced in higher education and in the industrial sector, these differences are minimal. This is not to say that the industrial model has been completely superimposed on academe, for differences, most significantly in the limits of the arbitrator's power to review management decisions, do exist.
The widespread use of binding arbitration on unionized campuses suggests that decision-making responsibility, once thought to lie within the exclusive domain of the academy of self-governing scholars, is now being shared with third-party neutrals, thus significantly changing college governance procedures. In making decisions, administrators must now be cognizant of contractual requirements, as numerous aspects of governance are increasingly being codified into the labor agreement.