National Mediation Board

The National Mediation Board (NMB) is an independent agency of the United States government that coordinates labor-management relations within the U.S. railroads and airlines industries.

National Mediation Board
NMB Seal
Agency overview
FormedJune 21, 1934[1]
JurisdictionFederal government of the United States
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
Employees38 (2021)[2]
Annual budget$14.3 million (2021)[3]
Agency executive



The board was established by the 1934 amendments to the Railway Labor Act of 1926 and is headed by a three-person panel of Presidential appointees.

NMB programs provide an integrated dispute resolution process to meet the statutory objective of minimizing strikes and other work stoppages in the airline and railroad industries. The NMB's integrated processes specifically are designed to promote three statutory goals:

  • The prompt and orderly resolution of disputes arising out of the negotiation of new or revised collective bargaining agreements;
  • The effectuation of employee rights of self-organization where a representation dispute exists; and
  • The prompt and orderly resolution of disputes over the interpretation or application of existing agreements.



Under the Railway Labor Act, an airline or railroad union contract does not expire; it remains in force and amendable until a new contract is ratified by the union members or either side exercises "self-help," which could be a strike by employees or a lockout by management. Before this can happen, the NMB-appointed mediator must declare an impasse in negotiations, which starts a 30-day cooling off period, during which negotiations continue. Once the 30-day period has passed, either side is free to exercise self-help, unless the President authorizes a Presidential Emergency Board, which issues non-binding recommendations followed by another 30-day cooling off period. The US Congress also has the power to impose a contract, as they did for railroads in 2022.

Board members


The Board is composed of 3 members, nominated by the President of the United States, with the advice and consent of the Senate, for a term of three years. By statute 45 U.S.C. § 154, “not more than two [...] shall be of the same political party”. At the end of a term of office a member may continue to serve until a successor is appointed or they are renominated.[4] Hamilton and Puchala were confirmed by voice vote on March 7, 2024 to new terms through 2025 and 2027 respectively. Loren E. Sweatt, of Virginia, was also confirmed to replace Fauth for a term ending July 1, 2026.[5]

Name Party Sworn in Term expires
Deirdre Hamilton (Chair) Democratic January 25, 2022 July 1, 2025
Linda Puchala Democratic May 21, 2009 July 1, 2027
Loren Sweatt Republican April 2, 2024 July 1, 2026

See also



  1. ^ U.S. Government Manual (PDF). 1998. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  2. ^ "Annual Performance and Accountability Report, FY2021" (PDF). National Mediation Board.
  3. ^ "Annual Performance and Accountability Report, FY2021" (PDF). National Mediation Board.
  4. ^ "45 U.S. Code § 154 - National Mediation Board". LII / Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  5. ^ "U.S. Senate: Nominations Confirmed (Civilian)". Retrieved 2024-03-08.