Federal Mediation Process
The National Mediation Board (NMB) uses the mediation process to foster agreements and to avoid a resort to self-help whenever possible.
The NMB, whose three members are appointed by the President of the United States, is the federal agency that appoints mediators to assist the parties with productive dialog on their negotiation’s issues.
The Railway Labor Act (RLA) imposes a duty on the parties “to make and maintain agreements… and to settle all disputes… to avoid any interruption to commerce or to the operation of any carrier…”. The parties should attempt to resolve collective bargaining disputes through direct negotiations. Failing that, either party may involve the Board’s services or the Board may involve itself on its own initiative.
The Board will employ a variety of methods, including but not limited to, traditional mediation, interest-based problem solving, or facilitation to peacefully conclude collective bargaining. If, in the Board’s expert assessment, mediation will be unsuccessful, the Board will “induce the parties to submit their (dispute) to arbitration.”
The mediator establishes when and where the parties will meet and may recess a case from time to time if it is deemed appropriate. There is no time limit for the mediation process although our Solidarity can encourage progress. Mediation continues until an agreement is reached or until the NMB determines that further mediation would be fruitless due to an impasse.