3. Mediation-Arbitration ("Med-Arb")
- With A Panel Representative
To provide the parties with a final opportunity to resolve the dispute themselves at this late stage of the negotiation process, a Panel-appointed mediator-arbitrator begins by exploring possible areas of agreement. Often, the procedure leads to a settlement because the arbitrator's suggestions during mediation are not apt to be taken lightly. The procedure is normally less formal than grievance arbitration, but may vary depending upon the Panel representative involved and the nature of the issues. If a voluntary agreement does not occur during the mediation phase, an arbitration hearing then immediately follows. At his or her discretion, the arbitrator may swear witnesses, receive exhibits into evidence, or require the submission of pre- or post-hearing briefs. Regardless of the nature of the hearing, however, the arbitrator ultimately has the authority to render a binding arbitration decision on those issues not resolved during the mediation portion of the procedure. There is no charge for the arbitrator's services.
- With A Private Arbitrator (Private "Med-Arb")
The Statute authorizes the parties to voluntarily submit their dispute to a private mediator-arbitrator after a joint request from the parties to use the procedure has been approved by the Panel. These joint requests are investigated on an expedited basis, and generally approved, unless they involve matters which the Panel reserves to itself, such as issues of first impression for the Federal sector labor relations community. In other cases not involving joint requests, the Panel may recommend and/or direct the use of private med-arb or arbitration as well. Under either scenario, the parties select the arbitrator who will handle the case and share the arbitrator's fees and other associated expenses. In other respects, the procedure is similar to med-arb with a Panel representative.
The information the parties should submit in a joint request for Panel approval of private med-arb is outlined in the Panel's regulations. Of particular note, as part of their joint request, the parties are required to submit statements regarding: (1) whether any of the proposals to be presented to the arbitrator contain questions concerning the duty to bargain, and (2) the arbitration procedure to be used or, in the alternative, those provisions of the parties' labor agreement which contain this information. Although the Panel does not recommend particular arbitrators, it will, upon request, direct the parties to FMCS for a list of arbitrators.
- Expedited Arbitration with a Panel Representative
When a quick resolution is a crucial factor in the circumstances of a case, and the issues are neither too numerous nor overly complex, the Panel may direct an expedited arbitration procedure. A Panel-appointed arbitrator meets with the parties to hear both sides of the dispute and, if a settlement is not reached, will issue a binding decision within 2 workdays of the close of the hearing.