The Integrity of the Arbitral Process

Over twenty years ago Dean Shulman and Professor Cox debated through the pages of the Harvard Law Review the question of the role law should play in labor arbitration. Shulman urged “that the law stay out,” while Cox argued that courts would come to understand the special nature of the arbitration process and would accordingly limit the extent of judicial intervention. The impact of their discussion has, of course, been mooted by the numerous judicial decisions implanting private arbitration within the federal law of the collective agreement. From the Supreme Court has come a formidable legal superstructure for the labor arbitration process, and support for labor arbitration is now a paramount national policy.

It is not the object of this Article either to belabor the wisdom of these decisions or to suggest fundamental changes in the labor arbitration system. The question does remain, however, of how to ensure that labor arbitration continues to merit its preferred status. In offering an answer to that question, this Article suggests that the key to private arbitration’s future contributions to the national labor law system lies in maintenance of the integrity of arbitral procedures. Thus the focus of the inquiry will be directed at the basic elements of arbitration procedure essential to the achievement of accurate results in an efficient manner acceptable to the parties. The legal developments of the past two decades demand a thorough reexamination of how labor arbitration is to be conducted.