The author is general counsel of New York State United Teachers and a member of the AAA board of directors. He wishes to gratefully acknowledge the research assistance of law clerks Mary Beth Farrand Shawn F. Brousseau. This paper was presented last October to the Southwestern Legal Foundation 40th Annual Institute on Labor Law.
The use of binding arbitration in the resolution of labor disputes has become standard practice. U.S. Supreme Court decisions arising out of celebrated cases have reinforced the judicial understanding that decisions of arbitrators are largely final and binding and should not be set aside unless they involve fraud or illegality. Yet, "Efforts to utilize public policy as the basis for setting aside arbitration awards have generated an abundance of state and federal litigation,"says the author. In this paper he examines this recent phenomenon's "viability in the face of the deference generally given to . . . arbitration decisions."