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National Mediation Board

1301 K Street NW., Suite 250 East, Washington, DC 20005


CHAIRLinda A. Puchala
MemberHarry R. Hoglander

Chief of StaffDaniel Rainey
General Counsel, Office of Legal AffairsMary L. Johnson

Assistant Chief of Staff, AdministrationSamantha T. Jones
Director, Arbitration ServicesRoland Watkins
Deputy Chief of Staff, MediationMichael Kelliher

The National Mediation Board facilitates labor-management relations within the railroad and airline industries.

Organizational Chart

The National Mediation Board (NMB) is an independent agency established by the 1934 amendments to the Railway Labor Act of 1926 (45 U.S.C. 151-158, 160-162, 1181-1188). The Board comprises three members whom the President appoints and the Senate confirms. The Board designates a Chair on a yearly basis.

NMB dispute-resolution processes are designed to resolve disputes over the negotiation of new or revised collective bargaining agreements and the interpretation or application of existing agreements. The Board also effectuates employee rights of self-organization where a representation dispute exists.


Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution

Following receipt of an application for mediation, the NMB assigns a mediator to assist the parties in reaching an agreement. The NMB is obligated to use its best efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution to the dispute. If such efforts do not settle the dispute, the NMB advises the parties and offers interest arbitration as an alternative approach to resolve the remaining issues. If either party rejects this offer, the NMB releases the parties from formal mediation. This release triggers a 30-day cooling off period. During this period, the NMB continues to work with the parties to achieve a consensual resolution. If, however, an agreement is not reached by the end of the 30-day period, the parties are free to exercise lawful self-help, such as carrier-imposed working conditions or a strike by the union or organization.

In addition to traditional mediation services, the NMB also provides voluntary Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services. ADR services include facilitation, training, grievance mediation, and an online dispute resolution component, which applies technology to the dispute resolution process. The purpose of the ADR program is to assist the parties in learning and applying more effective, less confrontational methods for resolving their disputes and to help them resolve more of them without outside intervention.

Presidential Emergency Board

If the NMB determines that a dispute threatens to deprive substantially any section of the country of essential transportation service, it notifies the President. The President, at his discretion, may establish a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) to investigate and report back within 30 days. After the PEB has been created and for 30 days after it has made its report to the President, neither party to the dispute may exercise self-help.

There are also special emergency procedures for unresolved disputes affecting publicly funded and operated commuter railroads and their employees. If the mediation procedures are exhausted, the parties to the dispute or the Governor of any State where the railroad operates may request that the President establish a PEB. The President is required to establish such a board if requested. If no settlement is reached within 60 days following the creation of the PEB, the NMB is required to conduct a public hearing on the dispute. If there is no settlement within 120 days after the creation of the PEB, either party or the Governor of any affected state may request a second, final-offer PEB. No self-help is permitted pending the exhaustion of these emergency procedures.


When a labor organization or individual files an application with the NMB to represent employees, the Agency assigns an investigator to conduct a representation investigation. Should the applicant meet the requirements, the NMB continues the investigation, usually with a secret telephone or Internet election. The NMB is responsible for ensuring that the requirements for a fair election process have been maintained. If the employees vote to be represented, the NMB issues a certification that commences the carrier's statutory duty to bargain with the certified representative.


The NMB provides both grievance arbitration and interest arbitration. Grievance arbitration is a process for resolving disputes regarding the interpretation or application of an existing collective bargaining agreement. Grievances must be handled through grievance arbitration if not otherwise resolved, and they cannot be used by the parties to trigger self-help actions. The NMB has significant administrative responsibilities for grievance arbitration in the railroad industry, which includes those before the National Railroad Adjustment Board (NRAB), as well as the two types of arbitration panels established by the labor-management parties at each railroad: public law boards (PLBs) and special boards of adjustment (SBAs). Grievance arbitration in the airline industry is accomplished at the various system boards of adjustment created jointly by labor and management at the parties' expense. The NMB furnishes panels of prospective arbitrators for the parties' selection in both the airline and railroad industries. The NMB also pays the salary and travel expenses of the arbitrators for railroad arbitration proceedings. Grievance arbitration decisions are final and binding with very limited grounds for judicial review.

Interest arbitration is a process to establish the terms of a new or modified collective bargaining agreement through arbitration rather than through negotiations. Unlike grievance arbitration, its use is not statutorily required. The NMB offers the parties the opportunity to use binding interest arbitration when the agency has determined that further mediation efforts will not be successful. In addition, the parties may directly agree to resolve their collective bargaining dispute or portions of their dispute through interest arbitration. The NMB generally provides the parties with panels of potential arbitrators from which they choose an individual to resolve their dispute. In some instances, however, the parties agree to allow the NMB to appoint an arbitrator directly. Interest arbitration decisions are final and binding with very narrow grounds for judicial appeal.

Sources of Information


Job openings are posted online.

Knowledge Store

The Knowledge Store contains over 100,000 documents—including arbitration awards, representation decisions, annual reports, PEB reports, industry contracts, and union constitutions and bylaws—in an easily searchable format.

Open Government

The NMB supports the Open Government initiative, which requires Federal executive departments and agencies to implement principles of collaboration, participation, and transparency.


The annual reports of the National Mediation Board are available on its "NMB Documents On-Line" Web page and in the Knowledge Store.

Virtual Reading Room

Copies of collective bargaining agreements between labor and management of various rail and air carriers and NMB Determinations dating from October 1, 1998, and some even earlier, are available in the Knowledge Store.

For further information, contact the Public Information Officer, National Mediation Board, Suite 250 East, 1301 K Street NW., Washington, DC 20005-7011. Phone, 202-692-5050.