Arbitration for labor unions has been around forever. Arbitration has only been in use for the last 10 years or so. Employers started establishing policies for arbitration in employee handbooks in the late 1990’s, in response to a few key court decisions. At first, most employment lawyers who represent employees were very concerned. National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA), of which I am a member, has sought to reverse this trend for many years.
The issue is that arbitration means a supposed neutral person will hear both sides regarding the employment dispute. That means there will be no judge or jury. Often absent are the tools we normally use in a lawsuit: discovery about the evidence held by the other side. confronting witnesses, etc. Worse, to gain access to an arbitration, an employee must agree to bear some of the costs of the arbitration. Since there are many, various fees and since some arbitrators charge $500/day or more, the costs quickly add up.
Now, a sister organization to NELA, Employee Rights Advocacy Institute has found in a survey that 59% of potential voters oppose forced arbitration in employment and consumer agreements. The support is the same whether they be Republicans or Democrats.