ProJo Notices the Stacked Arbitration Deck
A couple days ago I noticed that, with the arbitration bill coming up, Sen. John Tassoni had just been approved as a mediator. (The ProJo story reporting this also mentioned a few others). That led me to remark that it looked like the arbitration/mediation deck was being stacked ahead of time. The ProJo editors have also noticed and they also bring up a good point: familiarity won’t benefit the taxpayers:
Citizens also have a right to wonder: Just how fair would “unbiased” mediators be under such a system?
There’s good reason to wonder. Under the system, both sides of the table would choose an arbitrator. But here’s the rub: Chiefs of either the National Education Association or the American Federation of Teachers would be dealing with arbitrators over and over, while each city and town would interact with arbitrators only occasionally. This would place a strong financial incentive on an arbitrator to shade his or her calls toward the unions, in hopes of being hired the next time. Ruling against the taxpayers in one community would pose far less of a career risk.
UPDATE: Allow me to piggyback on this clarification from ProJo:
The Oct. 21 editorial “Sen. Tassoni’s new job?” — about legislation mandating binding arbitration in disputes involving teachers unions — referred to both labor arbitrators and mediators. While the binding-arbitration legislation has not yet been approved, typically state-approved arbitrators are chosen from among a group of different names than state-approved mediators. As the editorial states, Sen. John Tassoni has landed on the state’s list of qualified mediators.