The Arbitration Process

Arb Process

1. Conflict regarding Contract

A. Conflict - possible rule violation.

If there is a conflict about the contract the parties typically investigate the facts surrounding the conflict. If the matter involves employees the employer will conduct an investigatory interview. The purpose of the investigatory interview is to question the witnesses involved so that the employer can decide on the appropriate disciplinary action for the employee that has violated the Employer's rules and regulations. The contract may dictate the procedure for the investigatory interview. So know the contract.

Make sure that someone on each side is taking notes!

During the investigatory interview, as well as the actual arbitration hearing, ask questions that paint a detailed picture of what happened. Make sure to ask about the time, date, and location of the incident. Ask the witness who was present at the time, if there were any other witnesses, and what was said during the incident.

Before the investigatory interview, both sides should thoroughly prepare. Make sure each witness knows his/her story and is prepared to answer questions from the other side.

B. If the employee is a just cause employee keep the following in mind.

Just Cause = Substantive Due Process + Procedural Due Process

- Rule Violation - Followed procedures in contract/cba

- Fair Discipline - Time limits are important

C. How to Prepare for the Investigatory Interview :

Read everything on the web site regarding how to prepare for arbitration. Also, make sure to watch ALL the arbitration and mediation films on the web site.

  • Draft and type out questions for your witnesses. Figure out who is going to play what part. Each person must question a witness.
  • Read a lot of arbitration awards that have facts similar to your situation to get ideas about the issues that are important. You can narrow down the search by looking at cases by issue (theft, suspension, etc.).
  • Remember that no two people see anything the same way.
  • Each side should have someone typing notes at all times during the investigatory interview. (The two sides might agree to video or tape the meeting.)
  • You can never ask enough questions. Have witnesses draw pictures and get up and show you exactly what happened.
  • To view an investigatory interview click here.

2. Discipline

If the employer decides after the investigatory interview to discipline the employee it writes a letter of discipline:

3. Grievance

If the employee thinks the discipline is unfair s/he typically files a grievance. A grievance is simply a written statement that asserts why the employee thinks s/he has been treated unfairly.

The employer will answer the grievance with a written response stating that it will either reduce the discipline or that the discipline will stand.

If the collective bargaining agreement (cba) or personnel handbook has a mediation provision the parties may use a mediator to attempt resolution of the dispute.

4. Mediation

Some contracts provide for mediation before arbitration but not all contracts have such a requirement.

To learn more about mediation click here

5. Pre-arbitration

The parties typically meet with the arbitrator prior to the arbitration hearing. At the pre-arbitration the arbitrator discusses the following with the parties:

  • Who will testify at the hearing?
  • What evidence will be presented at the hearing?
  • Whether the parties have agreed on the issues in dispute?
  • How long the arbitration hearing will take?
  • The possibility of settlement
  • To view a pre-arbitration video click here

6. Arbitration Hearing

Arb process

* Information on how to prepare and conduct an arbitration can be found on the main page (How To - Prepare for Arbitration). Other helpful information includes: