From Demand to Decision in 10 Days: An Expedited, Economical Labor Resolution

Posted on: Thu, 04/22/2021

By: Frank Binda, Assistant Vice President, AAA® Labor, Elections, and Employment 

A matter of urgent need arose in late January 2021, with a school district’s decision to resume in-person schooling by February 1. The affected public-sector union did not agree that their constituent schools were prepared to resume in-person classroom activity. An expedited arbitration resolved the matter in 10 days.

Here’s how it unfolded:

Day One

  • The union issued a demand requesting an expedited arbitration to prevent physical classrooms from opening in a week and a half.
  • The arbitrator was invited.

Days Two through Five

  • The arbitrator appointment was confirmed. 
  • The preliminary teleconference with the parties was held, and the arbitrator issued a threshold ruling. 

Day Six

  • Subsequent meetings were held via Zoom.
  • The second preliminary hearing was held regarding witness lists and exhibits, and the hearing on the merits was scheduled for Thursday, January 28.

Day Seven

  • Parties met to discuss preparation for the hearing.

Day Eight

  • The arbitrator hosted a 12-hour evidentiary hearing.

Day Nine           

  • Closing arguments were made, and the record was closed.  

Day Ten

  • The arbitrator delivered a 20-page decision to the parties.                             

This dispute was resolved in such a short time frame by the AAA, utilizing the time- and cost-saving features unique to the AAA Labor Arbitration Rules Expedited Procedures. Read on to see how

E1. Agreement of the Parties
Although the parties’ collective bargaining agreement (CBA) provided for the AAA to manage their arbitrations, the Expedited Procedures were not provided in the CBA. However, the Expedited Procedures were in a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the parties. The arbitrator provided a threshold ruling, accepting that the Procedures would apply to this matter.

E2. Appointment of the Arbitrator
In less than 24 hours, the AAA appointed an arbitrator from its Labor panel (the same afternoon the matter was filed) and the arbitrator returned the executed oath (the following morning, see E3 below).

E3. Qualifications of the Arbitrator
The arbitrator reviewed the matter, the parties, and their representatives and indicated that, in accordance with the Rules and Code of Professional Responsibility for Arbitrators of Labor-Management Disputes, he needed to make no disclosures.

E5. Date, Time, and Place of Hearing
A preliminary conference call was held on Friday, January 22, the day after the demand was filed, and the arbitrator made a threshold ruling that indicated the matter could proceed. The AAA hosted a second conference via Zoom on Tuesday, January 26, in which the hearing date was scheduled for Thursday, January 28.

To assist the parties in preparing for the evidentiary hearing, on Wednesday, January 27, the day before that hearing, the AAA hosted a virtual pre-hearing to review all pre-hearing matters, such as witness lists and exhibits. 

E6. No Stenographic Record
There was no stenographic record or any recording of the proceedings.

E7. Proceedings
The Expedited Labor Arbitration Procedures provides:

The hearing shall be conducted by the arbitrator in whatever manner will most expeditiously permit full presentation of the evidence and arguments of the parties. The arbitrator shall make an appropriate minute of the proceedings. Normally, the hearing shall be completed within one day. In unusual circumstances and for good cause shown, the arbitrator may schedule an additional hearing to be held within seven days.

The hearing was conducted virtually on Zoom. It began at 8 a.m. on Thursday, January 28 and all testimony was completed in 12 hours. The parties delivered their closing arguments the following day and the record was closed, just eight days after filing.

E8. Post-Hearing Briefs
The Expedited Labor Arbitration Procedures provides that there shall be no post-hearing briefs, so none was submitted in this matter.

E9. Time of Award
The Expedited Labor Arbitration Procedures provides: 

The award shall be rendered promptly by the arbitrator and, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, no later than seven days from the date of the closing of the hearing.

The arbitrator rendered the decision early on Sunday, January 31.

E10. Form of Award
The Expedited Labor Arbitration Procedures provides:

The award shall be in writing and shall be signed by the arbitrator. If the arbitrator determines that an opinion is necessary, it shall be in summary form.

The arbitrator’s decision and opinion was 20 pages long and resolved all of the issues presented.  The arbitrator subsequently issued an invoice. Although the CBA provided for a loser-pays provision, the parties agreed to split the cost instead of arguing over who was responsible under that provision.


The AAA Labor Arbitration Rules including the Expedited Labor Arbitration Rules, along with other time and cost saving processes, can be found on this website.

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