Re: “Brutalized Behind Bars in New York State” (Ed., Sept. 30)
Labor arbitration has a long and honorable history of peacefully resolving labor disputes. Labor arbitrators typically are neutrals selected by both parties and decide cases based on evidence presented at the arbitration hearing and the collective bargaining agreement.
It is an urban legend that labor arbitrators often “split the baby”, as alleged in your editorial. The Code of Professional Responsibility adopted by the National Academy of Arbitrators, which was established in 1947, prohibits compromise by an arbitrator for the sake of attempting to achieve personal acceptability. As experienced practitioners in the process can attest, an arbitrator who is known to split the difference rapidly becomes a former arbitrator. This is not a career for the faint hearted. The parties are well aware of those who have the fortitude and judgement to make the right decision and those who do not. Blaming arbitrators for the ills of the prison system is simply misplaced.

Allen Ponak, President National Academy of Arbitrators