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Arbitration is a process whereby two parties in dispute, in this case probably labor and management, agree to follow the procedures set down by an outside party but using it as an avenue to settle their disputes without taking them to court. It allows both sides to agree on a process and then the opportunity for them to give up their decision making authority to this arbitrator if the two parties agree.
Mediation is a similar process and someone acts as the mediator and can help to offer a non-biased opinion on how to resolve a matter, particularly if the negotiations between the two parties are at an impasse.
Both processes are considered alternate forms of dispute resolution and often play an important role in working out disputes between labor and management given that the two sides often find it very difficult to see things from each other's perspective.
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