It seems that some positive progress is underway in St. Louis as both sides have agreed to utilize the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services (FMCS) in order to find a solution to their negotiation impasse.
According to SLSO Director of Communications, Jeff Trammell, the SLSO management has agreed to use the services of the FMCS. Mr. Trammell did not comment on whether or not the SLSO management was willing to reconsider any of their positions at this time.
The mediator assigned to this case is Charles Fuchs, a veteran employee of the FMCS. According to Mr. Fuchs, his office contacted both parties in order to find a date everyone could agree on to begin the mediation process. As of today, his office is still looking for a starting date which is acceptable for all parties.
Whether or not the mediation will produce positive results is unknown. John Arnold, the FMCS Director of Public Affairs, said from his Washington D.C. office that there is no legal requirement for either side in a dispute to actually negotiate and participation is strictly voluntary. Their mediators function to help both sides look for areas of compromise and can also serve as a communication shuttle if needed.
Mr. Arnold also said that neither party may approve or reject a mediator selected by the FMCS unless they are able to demonstrate some sort of conflict of interest which would jeopardize a positive outcome.
Both Mr. Arnold and Mr. Fuchs said that the FMCS will continue to assist in the process for however long it takes and so long as both sides are willing to participate. However, Mr. Fuchs said that on rare occasions a particular mediator may decide that there is nothing more they can do and if that happens, a new mediator would be selected.