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The Suburbanite
  • Questions and answers about arbitration

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  • What is an arbitrator?
    An arbitrator is an impartial party hired as an independent contractor by the employer and union involved in the dispute. They listen to the arguments of the case and write a decision based on the language contained in the union’s collective bargaining agreement and applicable laws. The parties agree in advance that the arbitrator’s decision will be final and binding.
    Arbitrators come from various backgrounds but many have legal experience. Arbitrators are different than mediators. A mediator, also considered a neutral third party, does not decide a case and gives no legal advice. Arbitrators, on the other hand, decide the case for the parties.
    How is an arbitrator hired to resolve a dispute?
    To hire an arbitrator, the two sides involved in the dispute request a list of arbitrators from organizations such as the American Arbitration Association, a nonprofit group founded in 1926, or the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service, a governmental agency created in 1947. The organizations typically furnish a list with up to seven names based on the geographic area and expertise requested by the two parties. Biographies, which include information regarding the arbitrator’s fees and expenses, their recent decisions and their significant publications, also are provided.
    The FMCS lists 1,400 and the AAA lists 8,200 arbitrators on their rosters. Not all accept public sector cases regarding employee discipline or discharge disputes. Many arbitrators are registered with both organizations.
    Most Stark County officials said they prefer lists from the FMCS and often request that the arbitrators are based in Ohio or within the 125-mile area. The FMCS lists 93 arbitrators within 125-miles of Stark County.
    How does someone become an arbitrator?
    The FMCS and AAA have different criteria and procedures for adding someone to their rosters.
    To be listed on the FMCS roster, applicants must submit five arbitration awards to an arbitrator review board, which evaluates the applicant’s experience, competency and decision-making ability and then recommends to the agency’s director whether to add the applicant to the roster. Arbitrators also must agree to end their advocacy work and must adhere to the agency’s reporting requirements and ethical standards.
    To be an arbitrator on the AAA’s roster for labor disputes, the applicant must be nominated by a prominent person in the labor-management field or another AAA arbitrator, have a minimum of 10 years of senior-level business or professional experience or legal experience as well as be able to demonstrate they are knowledgeable, neutral, can administer a hearing and would be dedicated to upholding professional standards.
    How much is an arbitrator paid?
    The average fee for an arbitrator is roughly $1,000 a day. The arbitrator also can charge for travel and meal expenses.
    Page 2 of 2 - Can an arbitrator’s decision be overturned?
    Yes. Ohio law recognizes four ways for a common pleas court to vacate an arbitration award:
    1. The award was procured by corruption, fraud or other undue means;
    2. There was evident partiality or corruption by the arbitrators;
    3. The arbitrators refused to postpone the hearing after being given sufficient evidence to warrant postponement, refused to hear pertinent evidence or misbehaved in a way that prejudiced a party’s rights.
    4. The arbitrators exceeded their powers or executed them so poorly that a mutual, final and definite award was not made.
    Can an arbitrator be removed?
    Yes, but it’s rare. Arbitrators can be removed from the FMCS roster if they have become an advocate, if they are repeatedly delinquent in issuing awards or if a complaint that they have violated the ethics code or standards is found true.
    Spokespersons for the FMCS and AAA were unable to recall whether an arbitrator has ever been removed from their rosters.