But Federal Law Is Not So Clear
The issue in Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3 v. City of Porterville, Case No. F067635 (5th Dist. Oct. 2, 2014) (Kane, Levy, Detjen) (unpublished) is whether an agreement between a city and a union to submit an employment dispute to advisory arbitration is enforceable under the California Arbitration Act. The Court’s answer: No.
An advisory arbitration does not satisfy all three elements necessary to be considered arbitration under the CAA: “ a third party decision maker,  a final and binding decision, and  a mechanism to assure a minimum level of impartiality with respect to the rendering of that decision.” Cheng-Canindin v. Renaissance Hotel Associates, 50 Cal.App.4th 676, 687-688 (1996). An advisory opinion does not satisfy the “final and binding” requirement.
NOTE: Federal law appears to be unclear as to whether a different result would follow under the Federal Arbitration Act. Cf. Wolsey Ltd. v. Foodmaker, Inc., 144 F.3d 1205, 1209 (9th Cir. 1998) (arbitration need not be binding in order to fall within scope of the FAA) and Advanced Bodycare Solutions v. Thione Intern., 514 F.Supp.2d 1326, 1333 (S.D. Fla. 2007) (arbitration agreement that does not require parties to arbitrate to final decision “does not mesh with the concept of ‘arbitration’ within the contemplation of the FAA”). Of course, the California Court of Appeal was not required to follow Wolsey, and instead it followed Cheng-Canindin.