Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (United States)
|Formed||June 23, 1947|
|Jurisdiction||Federal government of the United States|
The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) is an independent agency of the United States government, founded in 1947, which provides mediation services to industry, community and government agencies worldwide. One of its most common tasks is to help to mediate labor disputes around the country. The headquarters is located in Washington, D.C. Its employees include certified mediators.
Role under the Taft–Hartley Act
The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service was created under the terms of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 (better known as the Taft–Hartley Act) to replace the United States Conciliation Service operating within the Department of Labor. The chair of the FMCS received $12,000, placing the position at par with the National Labor Relations Board. The FMCS offered its services upon request or in disputes affecting interstate commerce, and was required to be notified within 30 days of the expiration of a contract where either side proposes modification or termination of the existing contract.
Formation and first director
On August 7, 1947, President of the United States Harry S. Truman appointed Cyrus S. Ching as the first director of the FMCS. Ching had been a member of the National War Labor Board until 1943, and had been an employee of the United States Rubber Company since 1919, serving as the firm's director of industrial and public relations in 1929. Ching would take office as of August 22, 1947, the date established in the Taft–Hartley Act for the creation of the FMCS as an independent agency, and would assume the role of the nation's top labor mediator from Edgar L. Warren, who had filled the senior mediation role within the Labor Department. After conferring with the President in August, Ching stated that he would assume his role as director in early September upon the completion of his duties at U.S. Rubber. Ching stated that his role was to settle labor disputes at the level when and where they develop.
Ching was sworn into office on September 5, 1947, with an oath administered by Judge Henry White Edgerton at ceremonies also attended by Howard T. Colvin, who served as acting head from the August 22 creation of the FMCS, as well as other representatives of labor, industry and government.
2013 credit card scandal
In 2013, The Washington Examiner reported that employees at the agency, which has a median salary of $120,000, routinely charge items such as BMW leases and spouses' cellular phones to government credit cards. It spent $50,000 on picture frames for employee awards, $500 for a single USB thumb drive, and $85,000 to a company owned by a just-retired employee. Director Cohen had the government purchase artwork painted by his wife to adorn his office, and retaliated against two whistleblowers who brought spending concerns to government regulators, firing one after a hospital stay and paying another hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle a retaliation complaint.
In response, the FMCS issued the following statement, as printed in the Examiner: "These items which the Examiner is inquiring about appear to have been the subject of a now-settled employment dispute involving a disgruntled FMCS employee. These purchasing issues were addressed in the settlement, but must remain confidential under federal personnel rules, as noted, in the absence of a release from the employee.
When FMCS became aware of this employee’s concerns about the Agency’s procurement practices, we took immediate actions. These actions included taking steps to ensure that the Agency’s internal processes meet federal regulations. Additionally, we obtained a review by an outside, independent authority regarding FMCS procurements made over a period of years. We conducted a prompt and thorough investigation and a review of our own internal processes. With the settlement of the employment dispute, the conclusion of our own investigation and reviews by outside authorities, the allegations were dropped and outside authorities indicated they would take no further action." 
Congressional Republicans, however, led by Darrell Issa (R-CA), announced their intentions to conduct an investigation of the FMCS in mid-November 2013. Amid allegations of wasteful and possibly fraudulent expenses during his tenure at FMCS, Cohen announced his retirement from the agency, effective December 31, 2013. Allison Beck is currently serving as the Acting Director.
Directors of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (with the date they took office listed and the President who made the appointment shown in parentheses), are as follows:
- Cyrus S. Ching (1947; Truman)
- David L. Cole (1952; Truman)
- Whitney P. McCoy (Eisenhower)
- Joseph F. Finnegan (1955; Eisenhower)
- William E. Simkin (1961; Kennedy), the longest-serving Director, departing office in 1969
- J. Curtis Counts (1970; Nixon)
- William Usery, Jr. (1973; Nixon)
- James F. Scearce (1976; Ford)
- Wayne L. Horvitz (1977; Carter)
- Kenneth Moffett (1982; Reagan), served for seven months.
- Kay McMurray (1982; Reagan)
- Bernard E. DeLury (1990; Bush 41)
- John Calhoun Wells (1993; Clinton)
- C. Richard Barnes (1999; Clinton)
- Peter J. Hurtgen (2002; Bush 43)
- Arthur F. Rosenfeld (2006; Bush 43)
- George H. Cohen (2009; Obama)
- "Fiscal Year 2012 Budget" (PDF). FMCS.
- Starks, Louis. "Analysis of the Labor Act Shows Changed Era at Hand for Industry; Labor Act Analysis Shows New Era for Industry", New York Times, June 24, 1947. Accessed June 23, 2009.
- Staff. "Appointed by President As U.S. Mediation Chief", New York Times, August 8, 1948. Accessed June 23, 2009.
- Staff. "CHING, PRESIDENT CONFER; Mediation Head Expects to Take Office About Sept. 3", The New York Times, August 13, 1947. Accessed June 23, 2009.
- Staff. "C. S. Ching Is Sworn In as Mediation Chief; Declares He Will Produce 'No Miracles'", New York Times, September 6, 1947. Accessed June 23, 2009.
- Staff. "SHIP STRIKE NEARS END; Federal Mediators Report Progress in Bethlehem Tie-up", New York Times, September 23, 1947. Accessed June 23, 2009.
- Staff. "NFL, NFLPA to start federal mediation on Monday, Associated Press, February 17, 2011. Accessed February 17, 2011.
- McGran, Kevin (November 26, 2012). NHL lockout: Mediators called in for meetings this week. The Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
- Rosiak, Luke. "Bureaucrats at tiny federal agency FMCS buy legions of luxuries with purchase cards"
- "A Timeline of Events in Modern American Labor Relations". Who We Are > Our History. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- Staff. "PRESIDENT ACCEPTS CHING RESIGNATION; He Praises Nation's Top Labor Conciliator -- David L. Cole Named Mediation Head ", The New York Times, September 16, 1952. Accessed June 23, 2009.