Friends of FMCS History

The history of negotiation, mediation and arbitration

FMCS Director J. Curtis Counts (1969-1973)

FMCS Director J. Curtis Counts (1969-1973)

During college Curt Counts met and began dating the college roommate of Patricia Ryan, the future wife of Richard Nixon. During and after college and law school, the two couples frequently double dated, and kept in touch over the years.  During college at UCLA, Curt was known as a very good baseball player.

Prior to FMCS, Curt worked in the private sector as a manager for Douglas Aircraft Company with a focus on labor-management relations. In that position, he developed a sound relationship with IAM, the major union at Douglas. He would eventually become a corporate official.

Secretary of Labor George P. Shultz selected Counts in 1969 to serve as Director of FMCS. In making that announcement, Secretary Shultz reported that Curt was getting the job on his merits and experience, and not on his relations with the President.

Counts successfully served for nearly four years until 1973. He was able to develop a positive working relationship with Jimmy Hoffa, George Meany and Walter Reuther.

He resolved a three-month-long strike by the International Union of Electrical Worker against General Electric. He also was involved in settling a strike of the International Longshoremen’s Association and East Coast ports from Boston to Texas..

Counts interestingly aided the formation of the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution (SPIDR).[1] Based on his concern that the mediators were considering forming a union, he assigned senior mediator David Tanzman to travel to state and Canadian mediation services to determine their interest in forming a national organization of labor-management dispute resolver. Counts hoped that such an organization would shift mediator interest away from unionizing.[2]

Counts died at age 83 on June 30, 1999


[1] The predecessor to the Association of Conflict Resolution (ACR)

[2] Counts’ hope was met during his tenure, mediator unionizing efforts did occur periodically among the mediators.

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