The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), created in 1947, is an independent United States government agency whose mission is to “preserve and promote labour-management peace and cooperation.” Headquartered in Washington, D.C., with 10 district offices and more than 60 field offices, the agency provides mediation and conflict resolution services to industry, government agencies and communities. Federal mediators may make suggestions and offer procedural or substantive recommendations with the agreement of both parties.
Two federal mediators from FMCS recently assisted in reaching a resolution on 26 September 2012 in the high profile dispute between the National Football League (NFL) and the NFL Referees Association (NFLRA), the labour union that represents the NFL game officials. FMCS began assisting the NFL and the NFLRA in May 2012 with negotiations for the successor collective bargaining agreement. The dispute hinged, amongst other things, on salary as well as pension and retirement benefits for the referees. The deal finally came after the Seattle Seahawks’ controversial last-second win over the Green Bay Packers on 24 September, in which a questionable call by a temporary replacement referee turned a Green Bay interception into a game-winning touchdown for Seattle. FMCS has not disclosed the details of the agreement.