In 1947 The National Labor Relations Act of 1947 created the FMCS, or the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. This agency was independent and was created in part because of the labor chaos that came after WWII. Originally, it was created to help smooth labor relations, but one very important aspect of it was that it removed the role of labor mediation from the Department of Labor to itself.
Today this independent agency has the focus of preserving labor peace and also creating cooperation between labor-management relationships. They are headquartered in the nation’s capital, and have more than 70 field offices. These offices provide mediation and conflict resolution in communities, industry, business and government. (FMCS.org, 2013).
The polices of the FMCS are six pillars which guide their conduct. Since it is beyond the scope of this essay to list them, I will paraphrase them. They involve two basic elements, mediation between labor and policy that will prevent disputes from arising in the first place. Their second pillar is “To encourage the States to provide facilities for fostering better labor-management relations and for resolving disputes” (Cornell University Law School, 2013). They do not just step into employee-employer relationships but provide mediation between businesses, in attempting to resolve conflicts in “any industry affecting commerce.” The one exception is in instances of the railways, which are subject to mediation and governance by a separate entity under the Railroad Act.
THE FMCS does not provide mediation in disputes that affect intrastate commerce. One very important mediation that they provide is being the middle person for disputes that arise over the agreement or interpretation of collective-bargaining agreements. But they only get involved in these as a last resort, since they are, essentially the last stop a place can go in such cases. (Corness University Law School, 2013).
The population that the FMCS services is the working population of the United States. They have a history of influencing congress to pass significant labor and mediation legislation. This includes a variety of acts such as in 1959 when congress enacted the Landrum-Griffin Act, which created a bill of rights for unions, and allowed them to have a voice in their own union, set their own fees and sue union leaders who were not representing their workers interest.
According to Legal dictionary, the FMCS employees over 200 mediators and from that they handle some 30,000 cases each year. That is 150 cases per mediator on average (legal-dicitonary.com, 2013). In 2011 there were 111,145,000 people in the US workforce (AmericanProgress.org, 2013). This is the population that the FMCS is required to service. That leaves one mediator for every 555,000 workers in the US. The number of mediators and offices nationwide do not seem enough to address the volume of the US work force regarding labor disputes. It seems like as a government agency with as much power and spread that they have that they should be better staffed with employees. It would be interesting to see what the ratio between worker and mediator they have had throughout their history to see if we are at a low, regular or high point in this ratio. Since they not only mediate, but also attempt to prevent disputes, more staff working in this capacity might lead to far fewer disputes.
29 CFR 1403.2 - Policies of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. | Title 29 - Labor | Code of Federal Regulations | LII / Legal Information Institute. (n.d.).LII | LII / Legal Information Institute. Retrieved September 9, 2013, from http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/29/1403.2
Burns, C. (n.d.). The State of Diversity in Today’s Workforce | Center for American Progress. Center for American Progress. Retrieved September 9, 2013, from http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/labor/report/2012/07/12/11938/the-state-of-diversity-in-todays-workforce/
FMCS. (n.d.). FMCS. Retrieved September 9, 2013, from http://www.fmcs.gov/
Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service legal definition of Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service synonyms by the Free Online Law Dictionary.. (n.d.). Legal Dictionary. Retrieved September 9, 2013, from http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Federal+Mediation+and+Conciliation+Service