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Interest Arbitration FAQs

Interest arbitration is a process whereby the issues not resolved in contract negotiations between the employer and the union may be presented to an impartial arbitrator for resolution. Washington State Ferries employees, home care individual providers, and commissioned officers of the Washington State Patrol have access to interest arbitration. Washington State correctional employees gained interest arbitration rights for the term of their current collective bargaining agreement when Governor Inslee agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was originally signed in 2013 and extended two years later.

Typically, interest arbitration is provided to employees who engage in essential services, such as public safety, and who therefore do not have the right to strike.

Interest arbitration is a mechanism for resolving a bargaining dispute. When the employer and union negotiate to impasse on a mandatory subject of bargaining, the parties hire an impartial third party arbitrator. This arbitrator conducts a formal hearing in which the parties present their positions. The arbitrator then reviews the testimony and supporting evidence and decides unresolved issues by issuing an arbitration award.

Interest arbitration resolves disputes that arise in collective bargaining negotiations between the employer and the union. Grievance arbitration resolves disputes over interpretation of an existing contract provision. Your collective bargaining agreement provides for grievance arbitration.

Upon receiving a list of arbitrators from an organization like the American Arbitration Association (AAA) or Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services (FMCS), the employer and the union go through a striking selection process to determine an arbitrator. 

Washington State correctional employees gained interest arbitration rights for the term of their current collective bargaining agreement when Governor Inslee agreed to extend a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) originally signed in March of 2013. Through the current contract negotiations process, our Union bargaining committee was able to successfully negotiate interest arbitration rights into our 2017-2019 contract.

To settle the issue of compensation in our 2017-2019 contract, we will have an interest arbitration hearing starting the week of August 29. Howell Lankford will serve as our Interest Arbitrator.

  • In the 2015-2017 contract cycle, we were able to achieve some of the highest general wage increases of any state employees through the interest arbitration process.
  • Interest arbitration will help ensure a level playing field and give DOC employees the respect, dignity, and fairness in negotiations that is long overdue.
  • With interest arbitration, contract proposals that remain unresolved in bargaining would be given fair, impartial consideration.
  • Interest arbitration will prevent costly litigation and reduce the number of unfair labor practice charges the State must investigate.
  • Correctional employees have given up the right to strike because of their dedication to public safety. Interest arbitration will provide a fair and timely process for addressing issues in contract negotiations that might otherwise result in a labor dispute.
  • County correctional employees, the Washington State Patrol, local police officers, firefighters and other law enforcement and public safety professionals have broad interest arbitration rights; Correctional employees must be afforded these rights as well.