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The history of dispute resolution, mediation and arbitration

The Remarkable Major Charles T. Estes: Mediator and Scholar


Major Estes

Lou Towers
(Standing Center)

Charles Tiltan

USCS conciliators (mediators) were not writers, and certainly not writers for publication. The same could be said for the early years of FMCS. Major Charles Estes[1] was an exception, having served with both USCS and FMCS, he researched, wrote, trained and mediated.

Here are samples of his writing:

“The Place of Communications in Maintaining Labor-Management Peace.” Southern Speech Journal, March 1949. (In this publication, Estes is listed as Special Assistant to the FMCS Director.)

“Communications in Industry”, Journal of Communications. Nov. 1951, Special Assistant to FMCS Director, and Consulting Chairman to the Committee on Communications in Industry.

“Speech and Human Relations In Industry.” Quarterly Journal of Speech, Vol. XXXII, No. 2. April 1946.

“Speech and Human Relations in Industry“  a 14 page, double spaced typed paper, undated. Under his name are these words: ‘USCS of DoL. Estes outlines a process for conciliation that has the parties reading out-loud to each other, with steps that increase the parties opportunity to discuss issues as they read. The paper ends with this quote: “The ability to steer people into believing that the solution is the result of their own thinking is a most necessary technique in the difficult art of conciliation.”

“Some Steps to Help Union Committeemen and Shop Foremen in the Art of Getting Along with Each Other.” This lengthy document is a very detailed plan for instructing labor and management in better communications and peaceful relations. The process facilitated the parties to jointly read the labor agreement to develop a joint understanding of the meaning of the agreement. This program was produced during the late USCS period before 1947.

MA Dissertation Based Estes’ Work

“Preliminary Investigation of a Procedure for Conditioning of Discussion” An MA Dissertation by George Liston Tatum, June 1948, Northwestern University. Tatum wrote in his introduction: “It is a pleasure to acknowledge first my indebtedness to Major Charles T. Estes, former commissioner of the USCS, now Special Assistant to the Secretary of Labor. Not only is the basic procedure under investigation his, but he has been more than generous with his time and energy in “interviews” or better, “talks” for the past two years.”

Tatum also thanked several mediators: Major James P. Holmes, Thomas J. Cleland, Walter P Monroe, and “especially, Mr. Lewis C. Towers, assistant to Major Estes .

George Liston Tatum eventually earned a PhD in semantics and became a college professor. Interestingly, semantics was a favorite topic of Major Estes.

[1] Estes had been a major in the U.S. Army.

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