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BAC: Fact-Finding Services
Fact finding is a mechanism for helping parties settle their contract negotiations by having the parties submit their disputes to a fact-finding panel. The fact-finding panel consists of a neutral chair, an employer representative and an employee representative. The panel evaluates the arguments and evidence and makes a recommendation regarding each issue in dispute.
The Fact-Finding Panel
Fact-finding services will be provided by members of the Board of Arbitration and Conciliation (BAC) if both parties agree to use the BAC. Similarly, if both parties agree, they may turn to another source for fact-finding services such as the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) or the American Arbitration Association (AAA). If the parties do not agree to request fact-finding services jointly, either party may ask the executive director to appoint a fact-finding panel. In this case, the panel would be chosen from a list of private fact finders maintained by the Maine Labor Relations Board. Each private fact finder is considered to be either a representative of labor, management, or a neutral.
Before the Hearing
Fact finders typically will require a statement of the issues and positions of the parties prior to the beginning of the fact-finding hearing. If the fact-finding services are arranged by the executive director (rather than by FMCS or AAA), the MLRB Rules on fact finding apply (MLRB Rules chapter 13). According to these rules, the brief or statement of the issues must be submitted to the fact finders and the opposing party at least five days before the hearing. It may contain statements, facts, precedents, or other pertinent evidence that support that party's position on the issues that party considers to be still in dispute.
At the Hearing
At the fact-finding hearing, the parties will present arguments and evidence supporting their positions. The fact-finding hearing is not public unless all the parties and the fact finders agree that it should be public. The fact-finding panel may administer oaths and require by subpeona the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of records and other evidence. The panel may request that the parties file post-hearing briefs.
After the Hearing
After the close of the hearing, the fact-finding panel will issue a report containing their findings and recommendations on all of the issues presented to them. The parties have a period of 30 days after the receipt of that report in which to make a good faith effort to resolve their controversy. During that 30-day period, the contents of the report may not be disclosed. If the controversy is not resolved by the end of the 30 days, either party may make the fact-finding recommendations public.
There is an MLRB form (Form 4) to request fact finding.