How Unions can Improve their Success Rate in Labor Arbitration - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 61, No. 1

Charles A. Borell
Page Count: 
10 pages
February, 2006
Practice Areas: 
Author Detail: 

The author is a business representative for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 97, in Syracuse, New York. This article is adapted from a paper the author presented as his senior thesis project at the National Labor College. Some of the original conclusions have been changed or expanded upon.

The author analyzed the arbitration win rates for unions over a 10-year period, confirming his hypothesis that “unions are not as successful as employers in the labor arbitration process.” Then he sent a short survey questionnaire to 100 labor arbitrators asking them to suggest how unions can improve their success in labor arbitration. According to the author, the results were both expected and surprising. Many respondents suggested that unions take a more proactive role in deciding which grievances will be arbitrated, for example, by carefully screening grievances for merit and ceasing to arbitrate cases for political reasons. Many also suggested that unions settle more grievances prior to the arbitration hearing. More than a majority indicated that unions could be better prepared for the hearing and improve their presentations. One suggested that the union’s advocates, representatives and witnesses all need to fully understand the union’s theory of the case and the weaknesses of the employer’s arguments before they appear at the hearing.