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The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service

In 1947, Congress enacted the Labor-Management Relations Act (Taft-Hartley Act). The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) was created as an independent federal governmental agency to protect the free flow of commerce by minimizing the impact of labor-management disputes on the economy. The FMCS was designed to provide mediation, conciliation, and voluntary arbitration services to labor-related entities.

Today, the FMCS uses a variety of dispute resolution services to promote collective bargaining, strengthen labor-management relations, and enhance organizational effectiveness.

Collective Bargaining Agreement Negotiation Disputes

The Taft-Hartley Act establishes that the core role of the FMCS is to provide free mediation services to employers and unionized employees. Parties need only make a request to initiate the service.

The National Labor Relations Act requires employers or union representatives to send written notice to the other party 60 days before the expiration date of a proposed termination or modification of a collective bargaining agreement. This notice must also be provided to the FMCS. Upon receiving the notice, the FMCS will contact the parties involved and offer its mediation and dispute resolution services.


The FMCS is responsible for maintaining a panel of arbitrators who may be used by parties involved in labor disputes. All arbitrators included on the FMCS panel are required to abide by FMCS rules and regulations in conducting voluntary arbitration proceedings. Although the FMCS encourages the use of voluntary arbitration, it may not:

  • Require parties to submit to arbitration
  • Enforce an arbitration agreement
  • Influence or review decisions of arbitrators
  • Require or modify the payment of compensation to an arbitrator

The Office of Arbitration Services within the FMCS is responsible for responding to requests for arbitration panels. A nominal fee is charged for each request. Arbitrators are allowed to charge their own set fees; however, they must provide their fee information to the FMCS in advance of conducting any arbitration proceedings.

Preventive Mediation

Over time, the FMCS has become more involved in preventive mediation, which involves training labor and management teams to avoid actual disputes. The FMCS employs a number of different tools to facilitate better labor-management relationships. More frequently, the FMCS has been providing its services to international groups and foreign governments as well.

What the FMCS Does Not Do

The FMCS does not deal with unfair labor practices or elections under the National Labor Relations Act. Nor does it enforce or interpret laws governing labor relations. These issues are handled by the National Labor Relations Board.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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