NEW YORK NURSE: July/August 2011
Q.: My bargaining unit is in the middle of negotiations for our next contract. Our NYSNA labor representative told us during a recent meeting that we may have to call in a “federal mediator.” What is a “mediator” and what do they do?
A.: In 1947, the U.S. Congress enacted the Taft-Hartley Act, also known as the Labor/Management Relations Act of 1947. The Federal Mediation Conciliation Service (FMCS) was created as an independent agency of the U.S. government to help mitigate the impact of union disputes on the economy by providing mediation, conciliation, and voluntary arbitration. Its mission is to “build partnerships, resolve conflict, and promote successful bargaining.”
The FMCS is located in Washington, D.C., with two regional offices and more than 70 field offices throughout the United States. The agency provides mediation and conflict resolution services to industry, government agencies, and communities.
According to the FMCS, mediation is “a voluntary process, bringing a neutral third-party into a negotiation as a facilitator. It may or may not lead to an agreement between the parties.” It describes arbitration as “a process agreed to by the parties (union and management) in which, at its conclusion, a neutral third-party will impose a binding agreement on both parties.”
Federal Mediation Conciliation Services are used to facilitate conflict resolution, contract negotiations, and the grievance process – particularly to settle staffing disputes.
For more information, visit the Federal Mediation Conciliation Service website at www.fmcs.gov/internet.
The NYSNA EGW Program receives many inquiries each month from members who have problems in their workplaces. If you have a question about labor relations at your facility, contact your NYSNA nursing representative. If you have a question you think should be featured in this column, send it to: RNs at Work, NYSNA, 120 Wall Street, 23rd Floor, New York, N.Y. 10005.