Arbitration In Public Sector Labor Disputes - Chapter 23 - AAA Handbook on Labor Arbitration & ADR, 3rd Edition
Richard M. Gaba
Richard M. Gaba is an Arbitrator and Mediator on the panels of the American Arbitration Association, N.Y. State Employment Relations Board, N.Y. State PERB and the U.S. District Court EDNY, among others. He was formerly an administrative law judge for the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor and a practicing attorney specializing in labor and employment law in both the public and private sectors.
Parties seeking arbitration of public sector labor disputes are elated over the Court of Appeals decisions in the Watertown and Indian River cases which now permit arbitrators to handle cases without delay and without the usual anxiety over judicial meddling in the arbitration process.
It took almost twenty-five years to get there, but at long last our highest court has loosened its vise-like grip on public sector arbitration. No longer will it apply its previous policy of intense judicial scrutiny to the question of arbitrability. If the parties to a collective bargaining agreement had the legal authority to agree, and actually did agree upon arbitration as the means of settling a specific dispute, then the “Liverpool Two-Step,” (a mating dance choreographed by the court in 1977), will surely glide the parties to a neutral, nonjudicial forum in which the issue of arbitrability will be decided. This is not to say that the court has abandoned its sacred trust of deciding whether there is some public policy set forth in the Constitution, the statutes, or the decisions of our courts that bars arbitration, notwithstanding the parties’ willingness to dance together.