The author is an attorney in San Francisco, Cal. for the California and Hawaiian Sugar Co., specializing in employee benefits and personnel administration. He has written other articles which have been published in the ABA Journal, The Practical Lawyer, and Labor Law Journal.
By entrusting labor management relations primarily to the process of collective bargaining, the National Labor Relations Act created an environment in which labor arbitration has thrived for the past forty years. But the increasing regulation of employment practices through legislation has created—most notably in the area of employee discrimination—new problems for arbitration. With the enactment of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), another area has come under detailed legislative regulation. ERISA has imposed an intricate statutory framework on the arbitration of many employee benefit questions and has raised new limitations on the arbitral process. But paradoxically, it may have the net effect of encouraging the arbitration of employee benefit disputes.