State Board of Mediation 101
The State Board of Mediation (SBM) is a quasi-judicial board created by the General Assembly in 1947 to assist in the resolution of labor disputes in the public utility industry. The SBM’s primary activity, however, changed in 1965, with the passage of the Public Sector Labor Law, §§ 105.500 to 105.530 of the Missouri Revised Statutes.
The Board exists to provide a forum for most public employees to exercise their constitutional right to organize and bargain collectively with their employers over the conditions of their employment. The Board will determine the makeup of appropriate bargaining units and then conduct elections in those units to determine whether a majority are in favor of being represented by a particular labor organization.
In Missouri, unions represent 23.2 percent of public employees, while only 7.9 percent of private employees are represented.
The SBM’s jurisdiction under the Public Sector Labor Law is to determine appropriate bargaining units and to certify exclusive bargaining representatives extends to almost all public employees, including those employed by the state and its agencies, counties, cities, school districts, fire departments, and other special districts. The SBM, however, does not have jurisdiction to resolve such matters for police officers, deputy sheriffs, Missouri Highway Patrol officers, Missouri National Guard members, or teachers at schools, colleges, and universities. These types of employees still have the right to organize and bargain collectively, but the SBM has no authority when they are doing so.
If a public employer and a petitioning labor organization cannot agree as to the makeup of an appropriate bargaining unit or on the manner of conducting the election, the SBM will hold a formal hearing at which the parties may present evidence and legal arguments in support of their positions on the disputed questions. After considering the evidence and the legal points made, the SBM issues a written decision resolving the disputes.
If a majority of the members of a bargaining unit do vote for the labor organization in an SBM conducted election, the SBM certifies it as the exclusive bargaining representative for all the unit members for the purposes of collective bargaining. The labor organization will then negotiate with the public employer of the unit members over salaries and other conditions of employment with the goal of reaching a written agreement governing these matters. The labor organization will also represent unit members with regard to individual employment issues that may arise, such as disciplinary charges.
The SBM consists of five members appointed by the governor. Two members are employers or selected from an association representing employers, two members hold membership in a bona fide trade or labor union, and the fifth member is a neutral party who serves as full-time chairman and administrator of the agency.If you would like to file a petition with the SBM, you can learn more about the petition process.