Thoughts on such matters as the pitfalls of serving as a mediator-arbitrator and the success of interest arbitration from the chairman of the New York State Public Employment Relations Board.
New York State does not have last best offer arbitration by statute. During the last two rounds of negotiations between our largest public employee union, the Civil Service Employees Association, and the State of New York, however, the parties agreed to utilize last best offer arbitration if they failed to achieve agreement at the bargaining table. Negotiations were successful and no resort to arbitration was necessary. I must confess that last best offer of the package variety has always made me nervous and while I find issue-by-issue binding arbitration to be more attractive, I think that it has serious drawbacks as well. Nels Nelson of Cleveland State University and Peter Feuille of the University of Illinois have pointed out that the theory of final-offer arbitration is that a successful final offer procedure is one that is not used. The goal of final offer arbitration is to make arbitration unnecessary. But the world is evil and there are times when a final-offer arbitration award must be issued. Hence, there is a genuine attraction in the Iowa statute that provides that arbitrators have the choice of the last best offer of the union or of management, or they may choose the fact finder's report.