|NMB Mediation Process|
The purpose of mediation under the Railway Labor Act is to foster the prompt and orderly resolution of collective bargaining disputes in the railroad and airline industries. These disputes, referred to as "major" disputes, involve the establishment or revision of rates of pay, rules, or working conditions.
The Railway Labor Act 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." No changes to the status quo may be made until the Board had taken a final action.
If, in the judgement of the Board, the unresolved dispute will threaten to interrupt interstate commerce "to a degree such as to deprive any section of the country of essential transportation service", the President may create an emergency board to "investigate and report" on the dispute.
For a flow chart of the Collective Bargaining process under the Railway Labor Act, click here.