The purpose of the 3(a) hearing
The 3(a) hearing allows the JLMC to identify the following:
- issues that remain in dispute
- current position of the parties
- views of the parties as to how the dispute should be resolved
- the preferences of the parties as to the mechanism to be followed to reach a final agreement (generally, the parties choose issue-by-issue arbitration by a tripartite panel)
Parties' pre-hearing submission
The parties must electronically submit the issues they intend to present at the 3(a) hearing to the assigned mediator at least 48 hours prior to the hearing. The mediator will then forward each party's issues to the other party. The JLMC limits the parties from presenting issues to the 3(a) panel that were not previously certified by the mediator.
The 3(a) hearing
A subcommittee of the JLMC, also called the 3(a) panel, presides over the 3(a) hearing. The JLMC chair is generally the chair of the 3(a) panel, and the other two members of the panel are the JLMC volunteers assigned to the case.
The parties make their presentation to the 3(a) panel, which then reports on the case and makes a recommendation to the full committee at the next regularly-scheduled JLMC case meeting.
After the 3(a) hearing
If the committee finds that there is an apparent exhaustion of the processes of collective bargaining, which constitutes a potential threat to the public welfare, it votes to move the case forward to be resolved. In most cases, this means interest arbitration. The format most commonly used is the tripartite panel, although there are instances when the parties choose to have a single arbitrator.
The chair of the interest arbitration panel is a neutral arbitrator selected by the parties from a random list provided by the JLMC. The other members of the panel are the assigned JLMC volunteers.
The JLMC notifies the arbitration panel which issues they are authorized to decide. Such issues normally include wages, duration of the contract, and up to 5 additional issues for each party.