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Arbitration and the Public Employee - An Alternative to the Right to Strike

NCJ Number
Detroit College of Law Review Volume: 1983 Dated: (Fall 1983) Pages: 743-756
W H Hyman
Date Published
14 pages
A review of State legislation mandating compulsory and binding arbitration for public-sector labor disputes may become an essential part of the public-sector bargaining process, playing the same role as the strike has traditionally played in the private sector.
In nearly all jurisdictions, public safety employees may not strike because of the vital functions they perform. Since the strike is generally recognized as an integral part of the collective bargaining process, effective alternatives must be found to resolve the problems of public employees. Binding arbitration is a logical alternative. Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin have instituted arbitration to resolve public safety labor disputes, although the forms of arbitration in each State differ. Police and firefighter unions, mediators, and arbitrators have expressed satisfaction with the use of arbitration in the public sector. Generally, management reluctantly supports it. Some merit systems have used a form of binding arbitration for years under the rights of a civil service commission to affirm, disaffirm, or modify a disciplinary action. Extension of this concept to other labor disputes is a necessary step which requires statutory authorization. Footnotes are provided.


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