Union Arbitration Process & Services

Attorney Katy Miller at Littleton Alternative Dispute Resolution, Inc. (LADR) has many years of experience working on arbitration cases brought under collective bargaining agreements. She understands the union-management arbitration process and ensures her decisions are detailed and carefully written.

Attorney Miller provides all stakeholders, from employers and human resources executives to union officials, with an efficient, orderly, and constructive path to conclude the arbitration .

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is a form of dispute resolution. Unlike mediation or conciliation, for which a third party helps disputing parties find common ground, arbitration involves ending a dispute through a binding decision. In arbitration, the parites hand over the power to decide the issues  to the arbitrator. The parties involved in a dispute agree with the arbitrator’s ruling.

In a unionized workplace, arbitration means resolving disputes that occur in the interpretation or application of a collective bargaining agreement between a union and an employer. In the absence of a union, however, employers may use arbitration to resolve workplace disputes through the drafting of a contract, handbook, or policy.

The Union Arbitration Process

The union arbitration process starts with a grievance process. This is to resolve the case at the lower levels of the organization. Disputes that remain unresolved go through arbitration.

During the arbitration, the employer and the union will each present their case and argue their position. The two parties may use witnesses and exhibits to support their case, but the strict rules of evidence used by judges generally do not apply. The arbitrator holds a hearing and decides issues an award. The right to appeal is limited.

Why do disputing parties prefer arbitration instead of a court proceeding?

In workplaces where ongoing conflicts may limit productivity, arbitration offers a faster and more efficient way of resolving disagreements. In most cases, arbitration is also less costly than court litigation since it does not involve the usual expenses that come with pre-trial discovery processes like depositions and written interrogatories.

Additionally, disputing parties may mutually appoint a labor arbitrator who is well-versed in industry-specific standards and the nuances of collectively-bargained contracts. The guidance of a labor arbitrator can benefit both parties rather than entrusting their case to a judge or jury who may not be familiar with labor-management issues.

How much does union arbitration cost and which party should pay for it?

Arbitration fees vary depending on several factors such as the length of the process, the terms stated in your contract, and the arbitrator’s rates among others.

Arbitrator fees (per diem) usually start at $1,000 per day or higher. The cost usually depends on the arbitrator’s experience, the geographic area in which they practice, the length and complexity of the union arbitration case, and sometimes even the number of expert witnesses required to provide evidence.

Arbitrators also have pro-rated fees for time in travel and/or time in executive session (pre- or post-hearing discussions with both parties). Likewise, parties will also be charged for other expenses such as the arbitrator’s meals, airfare, and accommodations.

Generally, the cost of the arbitrator’s fees and expenses are divided evenly among the parties except when provisions regarding cost distribution are defined in the collective bargaining agreement.

Each party also pays the fees of its representative (lawyer or non-lawyer) and the cost of providing its own witnesses.

How do disputing parties arrive at arbitration?

In employer-union disputes, arbitration usually occurs if conflicts remain unresolved after the grievance process which is a means of internal dispute resolution often used by companies.

Some individual employment agreements may require preliminary procedures such as mediation or informal discussions as prerequisites for arbitration. In some cases, disputing parties may skip various steps of the grievance procedure and proceed directly to the union arbitration process. Ultimately, the decision lies on the agreement between the disputing parties.

What happens if one party refuses to participate in arbitration proceedings?

Ideally, both parties must be present in the hearing to efficiently resolve the underlying workplace issue.

However, an arbitrator may still hold a hearing even in the absence of one party. This is allowed so long as the non-attending party was informed of the time, date, and location of the hearing but still refused to attend the proceeding.

Should the arbitrator decide to hold the hearing with only one party present, the evidence presented by the attending party will be the basis of the arbitrator’s ruling. An arbitrator will not make a decision based exclusively upon the default of one party.

Attorney Katy Miller

Katy sits on the panels of arbitrators available through the American Arbitration Association and also conducts hearings under the Teacher Employment, Compensation and Dismissal Act.

The attorneys at LADR have worked on labor-management arbitration cases and employment disputes since 1994.

With more than 25 years of litigation experience prior to becoming a full-time neutral, and carrying the proud legacy of her father, late Arapahoe County District Court Judge Martin P. Miller, Katy brings a sharp mind and keen sense of fairness to her role. She has arbitrated cases related to many issues, including:

  • Discrimination
  • Sexual, racial or other harassment
  • Contract and Collective Bargaining issues
  • Executive Contracts
  • Wrongful termination
  • Tort claims
  • Retaliation or whistle blower issues
  • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) issues
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) claims
  • Non-compete agreements
  • Trade secrets and other confidential information
  • Attorney fees

A fast and cost-effective path to dispute resolution

Arbitration allows parties to effectively pursue resolutions without the costs, stress, and delay involved in lengthy courtroom proceedings. To learn more about the labor-management arbitration process and how it can help resolve your dispute, call 303-798-2533 or contact us online.