Klibanow commenced her practice of “traditional” labor law, including collective bargaining arbitration, in the late 1970s when Los Angeles still had diverse local industries such as shipbuilding, steelmaking and tuna processing and Member Fanning chaired the National Labor Relations Board. At present, a goodly portion of her labor arbitration work occurs through the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service (FMCS) and in the federal sector. Looking at “the big picture,” it has been labor arbitration which has informed employment arbitration to a point and, as 9th Circuit Judge Berzon has at times commented in her opinions, these jurisprudentially separate strands have in certain federal decisions become woefully entangled resulting in confusion of issues in both arbitration sectors.
The history of labor in our individual rights-enamored society continues to be one of struggle, moreso than in other nations. At least theoretically, in union-management collective bargaining and its most fundamental construct for dispute resolution, arbitration, the playing fields are “level” on both sides. Here the disputes generally concern whether or not the employer has violated the terms of the parties’ collective bargaining agreement (CBA), either in the discipline or discharge of an individual bargaining unit employee, or whether the employer has engaged in conduct in violation of the CBA to the detriment of a certain group or class of employees, whose cause the union is championing.