David L. Cole, 75, a former director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and a pioneer in labor mediation and arbitration, died Wednesday at his Patterson, N.J., home. He suffered from cancer.
Mr. Cole helped mediate disputes in transportation, athletics, journalism, steel and the Metropolitan Opera of New York.
He had served as labor adviser to every president from Franklin Roosevelt to Richard Nixon.
He also had helped negotiate the 1954 "no raiding" agreement between the AFL and the CIO, which was a first step in the merger of the two labor organizations.
In a letter to Mr. Cole's widow, George Meany and Lane Kirkland of the AFL-CIO wrote, "No individual in his generation has contributed more to understanding between labor and management than David."
Mr. Cole entered the national labor scene in 1943 as head of a special panel appointed to handle an industrywide steel dispute that threatened to cripple the emergency wartime wage-control system.
He served as a regional member of the War Labor Board from 1943 to 1945, chairman of a presidential inquiry into the bituminous coal industry in 1948, and on the president's emergency board on a dispute between railroads and 16 unions in 1948.
He was director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service from 1952 to 1953, and later headed a government panel that studied labor-management problems in the new field of atomic energy.
Mr. Cole was born in Paterson and earned both bachelor's and law degrees from Harvard University.
He was a trustee of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a member of the American Arbitration Association.
He is survived by his wife Helen, of the home; a daughter Elizabeth Wishengrad; two sons Tom and Morrill, and five grandchildren.