ViewPoint: John Sivolella MBTA reform spotlights arbitration issues

July 6, 2015 - 1 minute read

Boston Business Journal: July 3, 2015 by John Sivolella

As lawmakers deliberate reforms at the state’s largest transit authority, please allow us to share key findings from the Institute’s review of 3,600 pages of Superior Court documents associated with the 2010-2014 MBTA interest arbitration process.

The MBTA’s interest-arbitration laws delegate the power to resolve public sector labor disputes emerging during collective bargaining to a supposedly neutral arbitrator. That arbitrator’s decisions are final and binding on both parties. Our review of the 2010-2014 MBTA arbitration documents identified at least five ways in which full, final and binding arbitration serves as a significant obstacle to reforming the region’s transit system.

First, the arbitrator, a private individual, is not accountable to taxpayers, who pay for his or her decisions. The scope of judicial review over arbitration decisions is, by the superior court’s own admission, “quite limited.” The Statehouse has no authority over an arbitrator.

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