[Excerpt} In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the arbitration and mediation of employment-related disputes. This increase has been part of a larger shift from reliance on litigation and agency resolution of disputes to the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), a trend particularly evident in the employment field. Over the course of several decades employees have been granted a long list of rights and protections included in a variety of laws, ranging from antidiscrimination statutes to pension safeguards to statutory attempts to guarantee safer and healthier workplaces. The growing use of arbitration, mediation, and related techniques to resolve statutory claims arising in employment relations is largely the consequence of the high costs and long delays associated with the use of administrative agencies and the court system to resolve disputes arising under these various statutes.
The growing use of ADR in employment disputes has occurred both inside and outside collective bargaining. In some union workplaces, the parties attempt to resolve statutory claims using the grievance and arbitration procedures in their collective bargaining agreements. In other union workplaces, many, if not most, statutory claims are handled outside the collective bargaining arena. Employees in many such organizations pursue their statutory claims through the normal channels of agency and judicial resolution. In a minority but growing number of union-management relationships, the parties have created procedures for resolving statutory claims that are separate or "sheltered" from the collective bargaining agreement.
The growing use of arbitration and mediation to resolve employment disputes has been especially noteworthy in the nonunion sector. In the United States, as most people know, the proportion of the work force that is unionized has been steadily declining for over 40 years and currently stands at about 14 percent. Although the Canadian labor movement has not suffered as steep a decline as in the United States, a similar trend is apparent there. The growth of employment ADR in the nonunion sector is largely the consequence of employer attempts to avoid the high costs and long delays associated with the use of judicial and administrative means to resolve disputes. Of course, some nonunion employers are also motivated by a desire to provide their employees with fair and equitable dispute resolution procedures.