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There is a widespread perception that our judicial system needs
changing. It is expensive, unnecessarily technical, intrusive on private
relations, and it gives unfair advantage to the wealthy and powerful.
Labor arbitration, by contrast, is frequently pointed to as the paradigm
of private justice.
It is understandable that labor arbitration is widely admired. When
it functions properly it achieves in an impressive fashion the goals by
which any system of dispute resolution should be measured. These are:
(1) Finality. Once decided, are cases likely to be retried or appealed?
(2) Obedience. Are the decisions put into effect or are they rendered
meaningless by subsequent refusals to carry them out?
(3) Guidance. Do the decisions provide necessary guidance to the
parties involved in the dispute? Can they subsequently structure behavior
in a reasonable fashion and avoid future litigation?
(4) Efficiency. Are the majority of disputes settled without a formal
hearing? When cases are tried, are the procedures adequate, flexible,
and suited to the particular issue? Are the benefits achieved from the
system economical compared to the costs?
(5) Availability. Is the dispute-resolution machinery routinely available
without undue expense to people whose behavior is governed by
the system, and are they provided with adequate representation?
(6) Neutrality. Do the decision makers avoid favoritism and bias for
one side or another?
(7) Conflict Reduction. Does the entire process, including the adjudication,
lead to more amicable relations and contribute to mutual respect
among the potential disputants?
(8) Fairness. Will the disputes be resolved in a way that appropriately
recognizes the interests of the various parties likely to come before the
Date of Authorship for this Version
judicial system, labor arbitration