3(a) hearings

The JLMC votes to hold a 3(a) hearing if it finds that the issues in negotiations have remain unresolved for an unreasonable period of time, resulting in the apparent exhaustion of the collective bargaining process.

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 memorandum

Each party shall file a prehearing memorandum by email no less than seven (7) business days prior to the date of the scheduled 3(a) hearing. The Prehearing Memorandum shall be filed by email to efiledlr@mass.gov and copied to the Chairman of the Committee, the assigned Committee members for both Labor and Management, the assigned senior staff for both Labor and Management, and the counsel or representative of record for the other party.

Any response or objection to another party’s Prehearing Memorandum shall be filed in the manner described above no less than three (3) business days prior to the date of the scheduled 3(a) hearing and shall state with particularity the grounds upon which it is based, and the relief requested.

The Prehearing Memorandum shall contain the following information:

  • The issues that remain in dispute and which each party wishes the 3(a) Panel to identify for arbitration. (Each party may present its position on Wages, Duration and up to five (5) additional, separate, and distinct issues. The issues should be narrowly and precisely defined.)
  • The current positions of the party.
  • The views of the party as to how the continuing dispute should be resolved.
  • The preference of the party as to the mechanism to be followed to reach a final agreement between the parties

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.

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