Executive Summary: The National Mediation Board (NMB) has published an updated Strategic Plan. This follows a December 2013 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) faulting the previous 2012 Plan. Of particular interest to air carriers, the NMB's Plan highlights Board objectives in representation cases and collective bargaining mediation.
In the area of representation or "R" cases, the Board identified the efficient investigation and resolution of disputes as its primary goal. In furtherance of this goal, the Board states that it will:
Respond to a representation application within two business days of receipt;
Assign an investigator within two business days thereafter;
Determine whether the required showing-of-interest was made within 45 days of docketing; and
Finalize the investigation by issuing a certificate or dismissal within 90 days of docketing.
In addition, the Board will consider the use of voice recognition software and "other cost and time saving" measures for taking employee statements during interference investigations.
Collective Bargaining Mediation
While the Board cites statistical analysis indicating that, on average, mediation cases are completed within 18 months and with 50 days of work "at the table," it acknowledges that the reality for many parties does not fit this statistical average.
The Plan acknowledges the on-going issue with tentative agreement ratification failures, and identifies social media campaigns as a particular challenge. To that end, the Board states that it will be working with labor and management to establish "Best Practices For Contract Ratification" that include advice on handling social media.
On the issue of Board resources, the Strategic Plan notes the challenges that increasing travel costs place on traditional "face to face" interaction and states that the Board will continue to examine the integration of "on-line meetings" and related avenues to deliver services. Indeed, one of the annual goals will be for at least 50 percent of mediators to use "online dispute resolution" technology in one or more cases.
With respect to day-to-day case management, the Board highlights the following measures:
Applications will be docketed or returned with guidance on re-submission within two business days of receipt;
A mediator will be assigned within five business days of docketing and will make contact with the parties no more than five business days later;
The mediator will submit an initial case report, including a case management strategy, within five business days of the first meeting, to be updated after all follow-up meetings;
Case status will be reviewed on a quarterly basis by the Senior Mediators, Chief of Staff and Board Members;
After 12 months, the Mediator, Senior Mediators, Chief of Staff and/or Board Members will review and, if necessary, revise the case management plan;
After 18 months, the Mediator, Senior Mediators, Chief of Staff and/or Board Members will again assess the case management plan and, after consultation with the parties, determine "whether the case should be administratively closed or placed in a special category."
A full copy of the NMB's FY 2014 – FY 2019 Strategic Plan may be found at the Board's recently refurbished website: www.nmb.gov.