Interest arbitration

Sometimes a case will settle after the 3(a) hearing. If it does not, the parties most likely will go to interest arbitration.

The process

The parties appear before an arbitration panel and present evidence through witnesses and/or exhibits.  The neutral arbitrator decides procedural issues, such as the date, time, and information that is needed.

The law creating the JLMC lists the criteria that the arbitration panel should consider in reaching a decision.  The basic questions are:

  • What can the employer afford to pay given the demographics?
  • What does the employer pay other employees, especially police and fire, both historically and currently?
  • What do communities demographically comparable to this community pay?

The parties generally submit post-hearing briefs about a month after the arbitration hearing, and the arbitration panel generally issues its decision about a month after receiving the briefs.

After the interest arbitration award is issued

The arbitration panel's award is binding on the union and the executive branch of the employer.  However, in order for the contract to be funded, it is binding only if and when the legislative branch of the government votes to appropriate such funding.  

Most awards are funded by the legislative branch.  If it is not, the award is no longer binding and the parties are sent back to the table for bargaining.  The JLMC may get involved once again at that point.

Closing the case

A JLMC case is closed once an agreement or arbitrator's award has been funded.  If the matter settles prior to arbitration, the JLMC tracks the tentative agreement through ratification and then funding.  If an arbitration award is issued, the case is closed once the legislative branch has funded the decision.

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