Policy on Membership Applications:  Applications for membership in the National Academy of Arbitrators shall be submitted to the Membership Committee Chair twice yearly, no later than February 1 and August 1. 


To obtain an application for membership, please contact the membership committee chair at the address at the bottom of the page.

In considering applications for membership, the National Academy of Arbitrators will apply the following standards: (1) The applicant should be of good moral character, as demonstrated by adherence to sound ethical standards in professional activities.  (2)  The applicant should have substantial and current experience as an impartial arbitrator of labor-management disputes, so as to reflect general acceptability by the parties.  (3)  As an alternative to (2), the applicant with limited but current experience in arbitration should have attained general recognition through scholarly publication or other activities as an important authority on labor-management relations.  This Alternative Standard has been utilized by the Board of Governors only under exceptional circumstances.  It only applies to an individual who is a recognized, prominent authority in the field of labor-management relations.  Individuals may not self-nominate themselves under this Alternative Standard. Finally, there is also a so-called Veterans Procedure which is a membership application process that intends to attract established arbitrators to join the Academy by lessening the rigors of the standard application process. The Veterans’ Procedure is identical to the standard application process save for two (2) major differences. First, the applicant is not required to provide the first and last pages of awards and other decisions which qualify as “countable” cases or the supporting worksheets. Rather, she or he attests to having a sufficient caseload so as to meet our membership requirements. Second, the Veteran application must be supported by letters of reference from seven (7) current NAA members instead of three (3) NAA member references. In most cases, these seven members should be from the same region as the applicant. References from management and union representatives are still required.  Who qualifies as a Veteran? (a) A Veteran is an individual who (1) has been an arbitrator for a substantial number of years, and (2) would without question meet our membership standards. Both criteria must be met. In that regard, the mere fact that an individual has a longstanding practice is, itself, not sufficient to qualify under the Veterans’ Procedure. (b) In accord with our by-laws, a potential candidate must be of good moral character and must have substantial and current experience as an impartial arbitrator of labor-management disputes so as to reflect general acceptability by the parties.

The basic standard for NAA membership is “general acceptability by the parties” as reflected in the applicant’s “substantial and current experience.”  We take “substantial and current experience” to require at least five years as an arbitrator and at least 60 decisions in a six-year period.  The heart of that 60 decision requirement is 40 written decisions.  At least 25 of those 40 written decisions must be in labor-management cases; and the other 15 either may be additional labor-management awards or may be written decisions in other workplace disputes such as civil service, teacher tenure, etc.  (No more than ten of them may be in employment arbitrations.)  The remaining 20 cases may also be labor-management awards; they may also be workplace dispute decisions; or they may be in the form of a consistent record of mutual selection.  Because the ultimate standard is “general acceptability,” we find that a record of actually being selected by opposing parties is a source of evidence for meeting that standard; and we therefore count five mutual selections (that produced no formal decision) as the equivalent of one award (above the 40 written decision minimum).  If the applicant was actively involved in the resolution of a dispute after s/he was mutually selected to hear it, we count two of those mutual selections as the equivalent of one award.  Remember that this 60 decision minimum satisfies the “substantial and current experience” requirement; and the Membership Committee still must find in the applicant’s experience convincing evidence of his or her general acceptability by the parties.

Important Note:  Because of the Covid-19 pandemic any applicant whose measuring period (usually six years) includes the year 2020, beginning with March of that year, shall have six and a half years in which to accumulate the minimum of sixty cases and case equivalents.

Canadian Alternative Standard:  Given the nature of the Canadian arbitration practice, Canadian applicants may apply under the existing standard; by nomination of the Canadian Regional Chair as a “Regional Star”; or apply under a Canadian-only alternative standard based upon evidence of:

A minimum of :

  • 300 neutral consensual selections for arbitration in a six-year period.
  • 60 documented, successful resolutions by the applicant in six years,
  • of which at least 25 are documented written dispositive decisions.
  • Dispositive decisions must be binding on a disputed point between the parties and do not include any stipulated or consent decisions.
  • They do not need to be full decisions on the merits.
  • Five labor, five management, and five NAA members references


Railroad cases:  Each certificate of appointment to a Section 3 tribunal (NRAB, SBA, or PLB) under the Railway Labor Act issued by the National Mediation Board accompanied by one issued and adopted award will be considered as one countable “workplace” dispute resolution decision.  For counting purposes, the operative date is that of the fully executed award.  Privately funded protection decisions are countable labor-management awards on a one-for-one basis.

The arbitrator’s caseload should reflect a diversity of parties and professional growth during the five year period. Meeting the above threshold for consideration of the application is not a guarantee of admission.  The applicant must demonstrate that they meet the standard of general acceptability for admission.


All applicants must acknowledge an understanding that membership will not be conferred on those who serve partisan interests as advocates or consultants for Labor or Management in labor-management relations or who are associated with or are members of a firm that performs such advocacy or consultancy work. Moreover, applicants must affirm that, if elected to membership, they may not undertake thereafter to serve partisan interests as advocates or consultants for Labor or Management in labor-management relations or become associated with or become members of a firm that performs such advocacy or consultancy work.

To request an application, or seek assistance in the application process, please email the Chair of the Membership Committee:

Kathryn A. VanDagens
PO Box 27383
Lansing, MI  48909

Office: 517-381-1390
Email:  NAAMemberChair@gmail.com