Reclaiming Arbitration’s Good Name - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 74, No. 1
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
For nearly a century labor arbitration, the voluntary agreement of unions and employers to give up wildcat strikes by jointly selecting a neutral to resolve issues of discipline as well as issues over the interpretation and application of their agreement, has provided workplace stability. However, the labor relations system in which that “labor peace” evolved is now undergoing radical change as the global economy with its facility for outsourcing of assembly tasks to other countries, its reliance on the digital world, and its shifting of markets has left us with fewer unionized workplaces, a drop in union membership and a reduced demand for and use of labor arbitration. This decline has been bolstered by unrelenting hostility toward unions by conservative employers in resisting union organization while imposing compulsory individual employment agreements upon workers in non-unionized enterprises which deprive their workers of the right to litigate statutory claims and effectively forestall their efforts to invoke the organizing rights guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). These changes are occurring at a time when our economy is undergoing staggering alterations in the workplace and call into question whether existing laws and practices are sufficient to effectively handle the inevitable workplace disputes of the future.
By tracing these changes from the early expectations of a just system for resolving workplace disputes to the present era it is hoped we can salvage those fragments that provided the workplace fairness that have been and hopefully will continue to be the basis of workplace equity in dealing with the inevitable workplace conflicts of the future in our rapidly and radically changing world of work.