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Learn about Interest Arbitration

What is interest arbitration?

Interest arbitration is a process whereby the issues not resolved in bargaining between the employer and the union may be presented to an impartial arbitrator for final resolution. Interest arbitration is not permitted under RCW 41.80. Washington State Ferries employees, home care individual providers, and commissioned officers of the Washington State Patrol are examples of bargaining units with access to interest arbitration.

How does interest arbitration work?

Interest arbitration, when the law allows for it, is a mechanism that can resolve a bargaining dispute. When the employer and union negotiate to impasse on a mandatory subject of bargaining, the parties hire an impartial third party arbitrator. This arbitrator conducts a formal hearing in which the parties present their positions. The arbitrator then reviews the testimony and supporting evidence and decides on what the contract language should be by issuing an arbitration award.

How is interest arbitration different from grievance arbitration?

Interest arbitration is a process whereby the issues not resolved in bargaining between the employer and the union may be presented to an impartial arbitrator for final resolution. This differs from grievance arbitration, wherein the arbitrator interprets a term in an existing contract. Interest arbitration is not permitted under RCW 41.80. Washington State Ferries employees, home care individual providers, child care workers, adult family home providers and commissioned officers of the Washington State Patrol are examples of bargaining units with access to interest arbitration.

How is an arbitrator selected?

Upon receiving a list of arbitrators from an organization like the American Arbitration Association (AAA) or Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services (FMCS), the employer and the union go through a striking selection process to determine an arbitrator. AAA is a private, non-profit organization that promotes arbitration as a method for settling disputes outside of the courtroom. Many of the collective bargaining agreements reference AAA as the agreed-upon service to supply an arbitrator. FMCS is an independent, federal agency that provides mediation, conflict resolution, training, and arbitration services to the private sector and governmental agencies.