Joan Weitzman is an associate professor of industrial relations at the Institute of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University. John M. Stochaj is a professor of economics and industrial relations at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Both also serve as labor arbitrators.
In 1977, New Jersey implemented Chapter 85, commonly known as the Fire and Police Arbitration Act. The act provides for final-offer arbitration, with the arbitrator considering the whole package of economic items and making judgments on an issue-by-issue basis for noneconomic items. The legislation also permits the parties, if they choose, to select other forms of final and binding arbitration.
The following article highlights the first two years of experience under the act. It also reports the findings of a study conducted among New Jersey arbitrators who have served as neutrals in police and firefighter impasses. The arbitrators interviewed generally believe that the act has been effective in resolving bargaining impasses and they applaud its flexible procedures, which have enabled them to use "med-arb" techniques. They agree, however, that the act has prompted excessive reliance on labor neutrals and has chilled collective bargaining prior to the declaration of impasse.