Dr. Miller is Assistant Professor, School of Commerce, at the University of Wisconsin. He earned his Ph.D. at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University, and has taught collective bargaining and labor law for a number of years. He has also written frequently for professional journals in the field of industrial relations.
Companies and unions arbitrate grievances willingly, but relatively few will let an arbitrator write new contract terms or set basic wage rates. New contract arbitration is too hazardous, many say, because the arbitrator would have no standards to guide him. But is arbitration to wages during a contract reopening period a special case? Does such arbitration resemble arbitration of "rights" f grievances J more than it does arbitration of "interests" (new contract terms)? Some writers think so. Using seventy published interim wage arbitration cases as his source, the author thinks the resemblance to grievance arbitration is "more apparent than real."
One of the more articulate wings of the arbitrator-scholar community argues quite strongly that wage arbitration cases which arise under a reopening clause in a contract are different from new contract wage disputes; that is, the former are more in the nature of "rights" disputes than "interests" disputes. For example, the issues subject to negotiation and arbitration, the criteria to be used, and the manner in which the award is to be constructed, all may be specified in the contract. In view of this it is concluded that "the interpretation of the parties' negotiated intent and its application to specific wage rates approximate the interpretation and application of contract terms to specific grievances."^