How are arbitrators chosen?

There are several methods by which arbitrators are selected by the parties to a dispute:

(1) Parties may request a “strike” list of arbitrators from an organization such as the American Arbitration Association or the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. In many states a state department of employee/employer relations may be asked to provide such lists of arbitrators. For example, in New York State the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) supplies strike lists for employees and employers in the public sector. Once each party receives the list of arbitrators (usually containing seven or nine names) each party strikes (crosses off) any arbitrator it finds unacceptable and then ranks the arbitrators remaining in order of preference. The lists are then usually returned to the agencies, and the arbitrator with the highest combined rank is notified of his/her selection.

(2) Parties to an arbitration may confer and agree on a single arbitrator whom they wish to hear a particular dispute. They will then notify the arbitrator of his/her selection.

(3) Some parties mutually appoint a panel of arbitrators to be selected on a rotating basis. On any particular case they may select an arbitrator out of the rotation (for example, if that arbitrator has particular knowledge about a certain subject matter, like engineering). Of the parties who appoint a panel of arbitrators, some appoint the panel for the life of the collective bargaining agreement, and some appoint the panel on an open-ended basis. In the latter case the parties will specify under what circumstances an arbitrator may be removed from or added to the rotating panel. For example, under some agreements either party may insist upon the removal of a specific arbitrator. In others, both parties must agree on his/her removal, especially if the appointment was for the life of the agreement, and the term of the agreement has not yet expired.