AN NTEU STEWARD’S GUIDE
What do you think arbitration is, and how do
we have the right to use such a process?
“Provided that any grievance not satisfactorily
settled under the negotiated grievance procedure
shall be subject to binding arbitration which may
be invoked by either the exclusive representative
or the agency.”
Where do we find the language on the
What does “not satisfactorily settled” mean?
What does “binding” mean?
What does it mean that either party can
What does it mean when we say that
arbitration is an imperfect process?
Do you know the types of arbitration cases?
Where do Arbitrators come from?
Who picks them?
Do you know who makes the decision to
invoke arbitration within NTEU?
Do you know how the decision is made?
The Chapter’s role
The Steward’s role
The Attorney/National Field Representative’s
The National Counsel’s role
The majority of our hearings go for one day, although a
minority…perhaps 10-15% will go more than one day. Our average per
diem fee today on our permanent panels is $1200 per day.
Normally we see a 2 to 1 or 3 to 1 ratio on days of hearing to days of
study, reading and writing.
Transcripts can run as high as $4.50 per page for the original and $1.00
per page for copies, and a typical transcript might be 300 pages.
Airfare averages $350-500 and hotels are now about $150+ with taxes. A
rental car runs around $75 per day with taxes and meals are $60-100
Depending on location.
Expert witnesses are sometimes used and the fee is split between NTEU
and the Chapter. A typical cost is probably $400.
As you can see, there is a significant direct expense involved in
arbitrating a case.
Arbitrator’s per diem x number of days
How much does NTEU pay?
How much does your Chapter pay?
One day of hearing $ 1200
Three days of reading/writing $ 3600
Transcript $ 600
Arbitrator Airfare $ 500
Arbitrator car rental $ 150
Hotel for Arbitrator $ 175
Meals $ 100
Total $ 6325
Agency pays one-half
NTEU pays one-half or $3162.50
Your Chapter pays one-half of this or $1581.25
The cost of arbitration is borne by the parties. Unlike a ULP or a case
before the MSPB, where the judge is paid by the Authority or Board, in
arbitration, NTEU and the agency pay.
All Arbitrators have established a per diem fee, which is the cost that is
charged for each day of hearing, and for each day of reading, study and
Each arbitrator is free to set his/her fee, and it is accepted when the
person is put on a permanent panel, or selected from a list.
The expenses of getting the Arbitrator to the hearing are paid by the
parties…this includes airfare, hotel, meals, rental car.
The transcript cost is shared between the parties
Incidental fees such as copying, postage etc are expected to be part of the
per diem fee.
In most Unions the Chapter bears the total cost of the Union’s share of the
case. NTEU pays one-half of this cost.
NTEU provides the attorney or national field representative to litigate the
case. Again, in many Unions this attorney is hired by the Local.
What do you see as the Chapter’s role in
getting a case to arbitration?
Who do you think has the responsibility to do
Forwarding to the NTEU Field Office
Has the case been fully investigated? Who does this?
What is involved in this?
Has the grievance been written in clear concise
language, and does it include the elements of a
Have thorough and legible records been maintained?
Has an accurate list of witnesses been maintained?
Have they given written statements?
Has the grievance checklist been completed?
Has the case file been thoroughly completed?
Has the case been forwarded in a timely manner to the
Field Office for review?
Why is it important that the file be timely
forwarded to the Field Office?
A briefing memo that contains:
The date an invocation decision must be made
The agency’s argument/position
The Chapter’s position
An analysis of the reasons to go or not go
Your recommendation and why
A completed grievance checklist
A reply file if there has been an oral reply
A decisions file
Review the contents of the file that is contained
in your Participants’ Guide
What role do you see the Field Office attorneys
and National Field Representatives having in
The role of the attorney/NFR and the National Counsel is to
examine and analyze the case file to determine if there is
concurrence with the Chapter’s recommendation. This requires:
An independent review of the case including the grievance and its
A review of the evidence
A review of the witnesses…who are they, where are they, how are
A review of supporting or relevant law
Preparation of a memorandum of law by the attorney/NFR for the
National Counsel that includes a recommendation to invoke or
A discussion of the case between the above and frequently
including the steward or President
A decision by the National Counsel to invoke or not
Let’s review these factors and discuss them:
Is the issue more than de minimus?
Is there an actual harmed grievant?
Is evidence available and does it rise to the level of proof?
What is proof? Discuss some examples of what you think the differences are.
Are witnesses available and are there statements?
Is there a remedy available?
Are the arguments legally sufficient and persuasive?
Has the issue been interpreted or ruled on by arbitrators in other cases?
The contract language, history and intent
The clarity of the language on the issue
The potential consequences of a negative decision
The gain v. the potential loss
The cost/benefit of the particular decision or case
Do you believe there are any others?
If the decision is to invoke, the National
Counsel will sign the letter and it will be sent
to the appropriate agency official
An arbitrator will be assigned to the case.
Arbitrators come from either a permanent
panel or an ad hoc panel from the FMCS.
Once an arbitrator is selected or assigned, the
case will be scheduled for the appropriate
number of days of hearing.
Hearings normally occur at the grievant’s worksite, and on the
There can be a court reporter who prepares a verbatim transcript
The arbitrator is in charge of the hearing, and is obligated to
conduct a full and fair hearing.
The arbitrator determines who may testify, and sometimes who
The hearing is conducted like a trial only with more informality
Witnesses are examined and cross-examined
Evidence is proffered for admission
There are normally opening and closing statements
There are often post-hearing briefs