Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History/Boards of Arbitration

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667473Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History — Arbitration, Boards of1912

Arbitration, Boards of.—Although Kansas has never been a great manufacturing state, the need of some systematic plan for the settlement of disputes between capital and labor was felt at an early day, for as early as 1886, an act was passed “to establish boards of arbitration.” By this act, when a petition signed by five or more workmen, or by two separate firms, individuals or corporations within the county who are employers, is presented, the district court of a county, or a judge thereof in vacation, shall have the power to issue a license for the establishment of a tribunal for voluntary arbitration and settlement of disputes between employer and employee in “manufacturing, mechanical, mining and other industries.”

A tribunal consists of four persons appointed by the judge; two workmen and two employers, all of whom must be residents of the county in which the dispute takes place. At the time the license is issued for the establishment of the board, the judge also appoints an umpire, who is to decide impartially all questions that are submitted during his term of office. When the board fails to agree after three meetings, any question in dispute is referred to the umpire and his decision in the matter is final. A board of arbitration may take jurisdiction of any dispute between employees and employer in any of the industries, who submit their dispute to the tribunal in writing. When disputes occur in a county where there is no tribunal, they may be referred to a tribunal already existing in an adjoining county. After the appointment of a board of arbitration in a county, it organizes by electing one member chairman and one secretary. The sessions of these tribunals are held at the county seat, to consider the petitions that have been presented. Its members are paid out of the county treasury at the rate of $2.00 a day for each day of actual service. All matters in dispute are submitted to the chairman of the board, who has power to administer oaths to all witnesses called upon to testify by either side. The board also has power to investigate all books, documents and accounts pertaining to matters in hearing before it. The board makes its own rules for government while in session, fixes its own sessions and adjournments, but the chairman can call an extra session at any time. When the board cannot settle any matter in dispute it submits the matter to the umpire in writing, and he is required to award a decision within seven days. When the award is for a specific sum of money, a copy of the decision is filed in the district court of the county, after which the court may enter judgment. Since the act was passed providing for these boards of arbitration many labor disputes have been successfully settled with no litigation; usually to the entire satisfaction of both parties of the dispute.