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Canadian City Avoids Mandatory Arbitration with Police Association

Tuesday, August, 30, 2011

Mandatory arbitration is a likely outcome in some situations.  These can sometimes include contract negotiations when the two sides have been unable to reach an agreement -- and when the labor force is for some reason prohibited from going on strike.  This was the case this week in Lethbridge, a city located in Canada, specifically in southern Alberta.  The City Council of Lethbridge narrowly avoided going to mandatory arbitration with the Lethbridge Police Association.  At issue was a labor agreement that had proven difficult to settle.


The Mandatory Arbitration Route


Police officers in Canada are legally prohibited from going on strike.  Without the ability to use this leverage to force a settlement, the only means at their disposal in the face of ongoing negotiations is to use mandatory arbitration, a form of alternative dispute resolution.  Mandatory arbitration, particularly if it is of the binding variety, can force an end to an impasse because an arbitration attorney or a team of such professionals will issue a ruling settling the issue in dispute once and for all.  Contract arbitration is a common means of resolution when the two sides of an issue are unable to find a meeting of the minds on their own.


Mandatory arbitration was avoided in the Lethbridge case when the city council voted 5-2 to accept a new three-year labor agreement providing significant police wage increases.