What is an Arbitration?
The Illinois Public Labor Relations Act, 5 ILCS 315/1 et al, regulates labor relations between public employers and employees, including the negotiation of wages, hours and other conditions of employment. Section 7 of the Act describes the authority and duty of the public employer and the designated representative or union to bargain collectively over these terms.
Section 17 of the Act prohibits certain public safety employees, including peace officers, from striking. Because they can not strike, for these employees, the Act provides an impasse resolution procedure in the event that the parties reach "impasse" and are unable to settle their contract.
Interest arbitration is the final step in the impasse resolution process. The parties mutually select a neutral arbitrator who oversees the interest arbitration hearing. At the hearing, each party presents a final offer on each of the outstanding issues, and after hearing evidence on each issue, the arbitrator must decide each issue separately. With respect to economic issues, the arbitrator can pick either of the party's offers and is not authorized to craft his or her own resolution. Section 14 of the Act lays out the criteria that the Arbitrator can consider when deciding each of the issues.
An interest arbitration decision is final and binding on the parties and can only be appealed under extremely limited circumstances.