Academic journal article Labor Law Journal

Notes On: Women Labor-Management Mediators and Their Story at USCS and FMCS

Academic journal article Labor Law Journal

Notes On: Women Labor-Management Mediators and Their Story at USCS and FMCS

Article excerpt

For over 100 years, the FMCS, with its predecessor the United State Conciliation Service (USCS), has provided continuous full time conflict resolution assistance to labor and management. Like most organizations in the early 20th century, USCS began with an exclusively white male mediators staff. It would be almost 10 years after its creation that the USCS added its first woman mediator.* It would take another 20 years before USCS would hire several more women mediators. This article presents this story of women slowly gaining acceptance in a white male-dominated occupation.

During the USCS 33 year history (1914 to 1947), only four women were hired as mediators. All four women were ultimately transferred to FMCS in 1947 when all USCS employees were transferred as FMCS replaced USCS. All mediators transferred from USCS to FMCS, as well as all subsequently hired FMCS mediators, were given a hiring number beginning with the number 1. In this paper, the hiring number appears in parenthesis after the mediators' name.

Of the four women hired by USCS as mediators, the latter three were hired during World War II.

Four Women USCS Mediators

Anna Weinstock Schweider (190) was hired by USCS on December 16, 1922 at age 27. She was stationed in Worcester, MA, the center of the clothing and needle trades industry in the U.S. Prior to joining USCS, she had been President of the Boston Women's Trade Union League, and an official in the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts recommended her to USCS. Her experience in clothing industry labor relations matched the USCS need to cover that important industry. Among her many awards during her long career, she received the Distinguished Service Award from FMCS Director Joseph F. Finnegan on December 16, 1957. Cornell University's Ted Kheel Center archive has an extensive collection on Anna Weinstock's life. A Google of her provide extensive information about her career. She retired in 1965 at age 70, and began an arbitration career. She died in 1979 at age 83. I met her briefly at a New England labor-management conference in the early 1970s. When we discussed the start of our careers in mediation, she joked that she started mediating younger than me. Unfortunately, our meeting was ten years before I started recording oral histories of mediators.

Rose Forrester (62) was hired by USCS in 1941 at age 61. She was stationed in the Washington D.C. field office, and retired from FMCS in 1949. She died in 1979 at age 84. No other information could be found on her.

Eloise Labounty Steward (207) was hired by USCS in 1942 at age 36. Ms. Steward had practice law before joining USCS. She served in USCS offices in Washington D.C., Atlanta and Chicago before retiring in 1970. She died in 1978. While I was stationed in Milwaukee (1965 to 69), I overlapped with her finally years in Chicago. She had an excellent reputation as a very strong mediator among the dozen male mediators stationed in Chicago. Retired Regional Director James McPherson, in a 1986 oral history interview, said that while he was Chicago's Assistant Regional Director responsible for assigning cases, he assigned her any kind of case, from nurses to heavy manufacturing, and she handled them very effectively.

Mary Currier (37) was stationed in Boston, and as result of a Reduction in Force at FMCS on 9-2-49. She left FMCS. No other information could be found on her not even her hire date. It was probably during WW ll.

FMCS Period

Unlike other Federal agencies, FMCS was allowed to handle its own hiring process in the early years after 1947. That occasionally resulted in some unique hiring practices. The first two women hired by FMCS illustrate that. There was no policy or practice at that time encouraging the hiring women mediators.

Twenty-one years after its birth, FMCS hired the first women mediator, who at age 34 was seven years older that the first woman hired by USCS 46 years earlier. …

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