Expedited Med-Arb: An Alternative to Arbitration

What is Expedited Med-Arb?

Expedited med-arb is a process by which a union and an employer, assisted by a mediator/arbitrator, seek to resolve grievances speedily and inexpensively. It is typically used only after all pre-arbitration steps in the grievance procedure have been completed.

The mediator/arbitrator assists the parties to settle the grievance by using techniques commonly associated with the mediation process, such as private meetings with each party. The mediator/arbitrator encourages the parties to focus not only on the contract, but also on the problem underlying the grievance. If a settlement is not achieved, the mediator/arbitrator provides the parties with an on-the-spot written award that is final and binding. The award is typically non-precedential.

Proceedings are informal, with the disputants encouraged to participate in the mediation portion. The rules of evidence do not apply, and no record is made.

Why Should an Employer and a Union Be Interested in Expedited Med-Arb?

Low Cost

Because expedited med-arb is informal, the mediator/arbitrator can hear two and sometimes three cases per day. At an average daily mediator/arbitrator fee of approximately $1,500, the per case fee ranges from $250.00 to $375.00 per party. Even if only one case is heard, the fee per party averages $750.00, vastly less than the average fee per party in regular arbitration.

High Speed

Because there are no post-hearing briefs or written opinions, the dispute is resolved at the hearing, not months later, as is common with regular arbitration. Final resolution in approximately 30 days from the request for expedited med-arb can be achieved if the parties agree in advance to a schedule of expedited med-arb hearings.

Better Results

To the extent that the parties are successful in resolving the grievance at the mediation stage of expedited med-arb through a focus not limited to the language of the contract, but which includes the problem underlying the grievance, the results are often more satisfactory than those achieved through arbitration.

Teaches Settlement Skills

The initial med-arb focus on problem solving negotiation (sometimes referred to as interest-based negotiation), led by a trained mediator, demonstrates techniques that the participants can use to settle grievances without resort to mediation or arbitration.

Clearing Out a Grievance Backlog

The capacity of expedited grievance mediation to dispose of 2-3 cases per day makes it particularly attractive to employers and unions searching for a fair and effective means of clearing out a grievance backlog.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click on Expedited Med-Arb - Frequently Asked Questions for discussion of:

  • What types of grievances are appropriate for expedited med-arb?
  • Does the availability of expedited med-arb discourage settlements earlier in the grievance process?
  • Why should an employer and a union use expedited med-arb rather than grievance mediation?
  • Should lawyers be used in expedited med-arb?
  • What is the role of MREP in expedited med-arb?

Model Rules

For Model Rules for expedited med-arb, contact Professor Stephen B. Goldberg, MREP President, at 872-206-5524 or stephengoldberg@law.northwestern.edu.

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