Biden Appoints Acting Labor Mediation Director, Demands Senate Action on Nominee
President Biden’s choice to lead the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service has languished awaiting a confirmation vote by the Senate since August.
President Biden on Wednesday designated Gregory Goldstein, a career federal employee, to serve as acting director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, and demanded that the Senate act to confirm his nominee to fill the position on a permanent basis.
The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service steps in to assist unions and management to reach agreement on contracts both in the private sector and in the federal government. When parties move to bring their negotiations before the Federal Service Impasses Panel for resolution, the panel often requires them to seek the aid of the mediation service first.
Biden chose Javier Ramirez for the post in June, and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee advanced his nomination to the full Senate by voice vote in August. But since then, there has been no action to grant him a final confirmation vote.
Ramirez joined the agency as a commissioner in 2005, and currently serves as the executive manager of its division of agency initiatives. Prior to joining the agency, he negotiated public sector union contracts.
Until his designation as acting director, Goldstein served as the agency’s chief operating officer. He is a member of the Senior Executive Service. In a statement accompanying his designation, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the position needs to be filled immediately to address the growing amount of union activity in both the federal government and the private sector.
“Because of the president’s American Rescue Plan and Build Back Better agenda, our economy has recovered more rapidly than predicted from the COVID-19 pandemic downturn,” Psaki said. “With tighter labor markets and more money in their pockets, workers have greater power to demand their fair share from employers in collective bargaining with unions across the country. These conditions have put a spotlight on the important role of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in facilitating productive collective bargaining relationships and labor-management partnerships.”
In addition to Biden’s efforts to encourage more collaborative labor-management relations at federal agencies, 2021 saw a wellspring of organizing at workplaces across the country, including coal miners in Alabama, and workers at Kellogg’s, John Deere and Frito-Lay all going on high profile strikes. More and more workplaces have seen organization drives, from news organizations like Politico to Starbucks stores in Buffalo, N.Y.
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