National Mediation Board

Federal Works Building, Eighteenth and F Streets NW.
NAtional 8460

Chairman Harry H. Schwartz
Member George A. Cook
Member Frank P. Douglass
Secretary Robt. F. Cole

Creation and Authority.--The National Mediation Board was created by an act to amend the Railway Labor Act approved June 21, 1934 (48 Stat. 1185; 45 U.S.C. 151-58, 160-62), to take the place of the United States Board of Mediation provided for by the act of May 20, 1926 (44 Stat. 577; 45 U.S.C. 153). On July 21, 1934, the new Board superseded the United States Board of Mediation. By act of April 10, 1936, (49 Stat. 1189-91; 45 U.S.C. 181-88), the Railway Labor Act was further amended to extend the jurisdiction of the Board to carriers by air engaged in interstate commerce or under mail contract.

Purpose.--The general purposes of the Railway Labor Act establishing the National Mediation Board, are as follows:

  1. To avoid any interruption to commerce or to the operation of any carrier engaged therein.

  2. To forbid any limitation upon freedom of association among employees or any denial, as a condition of employment or otherwise, of the right of employees to join an labor organization.

  3. To provide for the complete independence of carriers and of employees in the matter of self-organization.

  4. To provide for the prompt and orderly settlement of all disputes concerning rates of pay, rules, or working conditions.

  5. To provide for the prompt and orderly settlement of all disputes growing out of grievances or out of the interpretation or application of agreements covering rates of pay, rules, or working conditions.


Organization.--The National Mediation Board consists of three members appointed by the President by and with the advise and consent of the Senate. Not more than two members may be of the same political party. The Board is assisted by a secretary, office staff, and a staff of mediators.

Activities.--The principal duty of the National Mediation Board is to mediate differences between the railroads, the express and Pullman companies, and the airlines on the one hand and their employees on the other, growing out of their attempts to make and maintain agreements establishing the rates of pay, rules, and working conditions of the employees as directed by the Railway Labor Act.

In addition to mediating disputes between carriers and their employees, the Board is also charged with the responsibility of determining representation disputes among the employees. When a dispute arises among a rail or airline carrier's employees as to who are the representatives of such employees for the purposes of the Railway Labor Act, the Board is authorized to investigate such dispute and to determine by an election or other appropriate method who is the duly designated and authorized representative of the employees and to certify such representative to the parties and to the carrier.

National Railroad Adjustment Board.--Disputes growing out of grievances or out of interpretation or application of agreements concerning rates of pay, rules, or working conditions are referable to a board known as the National Railroad Adjustment Board set up by section 3 of the Railway Labor Act. This Board is divided into four divisions and consists of an equal number of representatives of the carriers and of national organizations of employees. In deadlocked cases the National Mediation Board is authorized to appoint a referee to site with the members of the division for the purpose of making an award. The Mediation Board also appoints neutral arbitrators in cases where arbitration has been agreed upon as a result of mediation and the parties are unable to agree on the neutral arbitrators.

National Railway Labor Panel.--To supplement the Railway Labor Act during the war emergency, the President, by Executive Order 9172, dated May 22, 1942, established the National Railway Labor Panel from which railroad emergency boards are selected by the Chairman of the Panel. The Panel consists of 20 members appointed by the President. Section 10 of the act provides that if a dispute between an carrier and its employees is not adjusted under the provisions of the act and threatens substantially to interrupt interstate commerce, the Mediation Board shall notify the President who may thereupon, in his discretion, appoint an emergency board to investigate and report to him with recommendations for settlement of the dispute. By Executive Order 9172 the President has delegated the designation of such emergency boards to the Chairman of the Panel in cases where the employees refrain from taking strike votes and setting strike dates.


Harry H. Schwartz


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Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation