Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service


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Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) is an independent agency of the U.S. government that seeks to prevent or settle disputes between labor unions and management that affect interstate commerce. The FMCS was established by the 1947 Labor-Management Relations Act (61 Stat. 153 [29 U.S.C.A. § 172]), better known as the Taft-Hartley Act. Mediators for the FMCS have no law enforcement authority and must rely on their own persuasive techniques.

The Labor-Management Relations Act requires that parties to a labor contract must file a notice with the FMCS if agreement is not reached within 30 days before a contract termination or reopening date. The FMCS is required by the act to avoid mediation of disputes that would have only a minor effect on interstate commerce. However, in seeking to promote labor peace through the encouragement and development of long-term, stable relationships between labor and management, the FMCS has taken a broad view of its statutory mandate and has involved itself in disputes that have little effect on interstate commerce.

The FMCS provides both mediation and conciliation services. Most of its interventions involve mediation, which is a voluntary, nonbinding form of dispute resolution. A mediator attempts to facilitate an agreement by conducting meetings and coordinating discussions. A mediator may make substantive suggestions as an active participant to help the parties reach a voluntary agreement.

FMCS mediators must be neutral and must have a minimum of seven years' experience in bargaining methods and tactics. Mediators must maintain strict confidentiality of both sides' positions and may be removed for bias or a failure to maintain confidences. The FMCS employs over 200 mediators, who typically handle about 30,000 cases every year.

Conciliation is a different form of dispute resolution. A conciliator acts as a neutral third party, serving as a resource person for both sides. Generally, a conciliator will not participate in any joint meetings between the parties. Instead, a conciliator will present each party's position to the other in separate sessions. The conciliator may also suggest solutions, especially when negotiations have reached a stalemate.

The FMCS will also provide Arbitration support. Arbitration is an informal method of adjudication, in which both parties present their side of the case, and an arbitrator decides who will prevail. Upon the joint request of a union and an employer, the FMCS will help to select arbitrators from a roster of private citizens.

The agency also employs preventive mediation techniques once an agreement is reached. These techniques include the organization of or participation in labor-management committees, which serve as outlets for discussing problems, and the training of labor and management in Alternative Dispute Resolution techniques. This training is often presented through conferences and seminars.

By 2002, the FMCS had developed web technology that provided the public with comprehensive information. More importantly, FMCS has shifted much of the work done by mediators from paper to electronic documents, which are accessible through its web site. It has ambitious plans for making the mediation process an online activity for parties who need dispute-resolution services.

Further readings

Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Available online at <www.fmcs.gov> (accessed November 12, 2003).

Newman, William A. 1990."Use of Non-Adjudicative Third-Party Dispute Resolution Methods by Dispute Resolution Agencies of the United States Government." Ohio Northern University Law Review 17.

U.S. Government Manual Website. Available online at <www.gpoaccess.gov/gmanual> (accessed November 10, 1993).

References in periodicals archive ?
As the strike enters its 32nd day today, very little has been revealed about the resolution process, which began Monday after the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service requested that both sides return to the bargaining table.
Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) Acting Director Allison Beck congratulated Rhode Island state officials and union negotiators on the implementation of a settlement agreement to Rhode Island's longstanding public employee pension dispute.
Hurtgen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
para]]WASHINGTON, June 18, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Allison Beck, Acting Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), today announced that with the assistance of Federal mediators, a tentative settlement has been reached between the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) and the New York City Hospital Alliance, representing major medical facilities in the city of New York.
The new service is also welcomed by Dan Funkhouser, Director of the Office of Administration and Chief Information Officer of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
para]]WASHINGTON, June 9, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Allison Beck, Acting Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), today announced that with the assistance of Federal mediators, a tentative settlement has been reached between USW Local 9423 and Chicago-based Century Aluminum Co.
The voting will continue through today, and on Friday, the supermarket employers and representatives of the seven United Food and Commercial Workers locals will meet with a federal mediator at local offices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
para]]WASHINGTON, May 7, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Acting Director Allison Beck today issued the following statement on labor negotiations between representatives of Space Needle LLC and UNITE-HERE Local 8, Seattle, WA:[[/para]]
the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service said it set meetings with Lockheed Martin and union officials Wednesday in Atlanta, Glendale and Oakland to discuss the rejected proposals, the Associated Press reported.
They were joined by representatives of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Allison Beck, Acting Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), today announced that with the assistance of federal mediators, a tentative settlement has been reached between Honeywell's Metropolis Works and the United Steelworkers Local 7-669 in Metropolis, IL, potentially ending a work stoppage that began August 2, 2014.
I have determined that a job action by your organization threatens to cause a substantial interruption of commerce,'' Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service director-designee C.
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