How do an employer and an employee (or union) arrive at arbitration?

An employer-union arbitration hearing over a workplace dispute generally is preceded by a negotiated grievance process, which is intended to resolve disputes informally and at lower levels of the organization. Only those disputes that are not resolved through that process are referred to arbitration. Parties may, by agreement, waive all or some of the steps of the grievance procedure and proceed directly to arbitration. Individual employment agreements may also require preliminary steps (e.g., informal discussions or mediation) as preconditions for the invocation of arbitration or may allow direct and immediate use of the process.