The purpose of this paper is to examine the market demand for labor arbitrators. Rather than attempting to analyze the changing arbitration caseload, the authors focus on the arbitrator selection process. In particular, what are the "buyers" of labor arbitrators' services attempting to "purchase" when they review arbitrators' records and make their choices?
Previous studies of the arbitrator selection process consistently have identified experience (in the form of previous arbitration appointments) as the primary concern of management and the union. This paper examines three effects, identified in 1950 by an economist studying consumer demand, that describe quite different concerns of consumers who (1) like to be "in style" (Bandwagon), (2) like to attain exclusiveness (Snob), and (3) are concerned with "conspicuous consumption" (Veblen). It is shown that all three effects are practiced by current parties to labor arbitration, and examples are discussed of how each of these three effects tends to determine the selection of arbitrators.