The U.S. Senate in a 52-48 vote Dec. 7 confirmed labor attorney Deidre Hamilton to the National Mediation Board (NMB), shifting control of the the government body that facilitates labor-management relations in the aviation and rail industries to a 2-to-1 Democratic margin.
Nominated by President Joe Biden in April, Hamilton bring more than two decades of labor expertise to the NMB. She has significant experience before the federal courts and the NMB on a wide range of legal issues including union elections, mediation, contract enforcement, and major and minor dispute claims, and has amassed an in-depth knowledge of the Railway Labor Act. Her most recent experience has been in the legal department of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters where she began working with the Airline Division in 2014.
President Joe Biden last week announced two nominees — Gerald Fauth III and Linda Puchala — to return to the National Mediation Board (NMB).
Gerald W. Fauth III, the current NMB chairman, was nominated for another three-year term. He has served on the board since November 2017.
Fauth has 40 years of experience in the private sector and federal government working in the transportation industry. He has been directly involved in negotiating, mediating, arbitrating, facilitating, supporting and/or deciding the resolution of hundreds of complex transportation problems and disputes.
In addition to his NMB experience, from 1999 to 2003, Fauth served at the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) as chief of staff and senior advisor to a board member and was directly involved in the decision-making process in hundreds of formal decisions involving all matters of STB jurisdiction. In 1998, Mr. Fauth was named by the STB an original member of the Conrail Transaction Council established to provide a forum for constructive dialogue and timely and efficient communication of information in order to resolve implementation problems and railroad service concerns associated with the Conrail railroad transaction, the largest rail transaction in history.
Ms. Puchala has served as a member of the NMB since her confirmation by the U.S. Senate in 2009. Prior to her service as a board member, Ms. Puchala worked as a mediator, sr. mediator (ADR) and as the associate director of alternative dispute resolution services over a 10-year career at the NMB. During her tenure, Puchala has demonstrated leadership and professionalism that has earned her the respect of both parties across the mediation table. Puchala has also pursued innovative strategies to resolve pending arbitration cases, sought to modernize the NMB’s management practices and has fought for policies that will protect the rights of workers to have a union voice. Puchala also obtained important labor relations experience as a former international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, and as a staff director at the Michigan State Employees Association of AFSCME.
SMART and 18 other unions sent a letter to President Joe Biden and Democratic U.S. Senate leaders Chuck Schumer and Patty Murray reminding the president that appointing new members to the National Mediation Board (NMB) should be prioritized and endorsed the appointment of Deirdre Hamilton and reappointment of Linda Puchala to the board.
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
Via US Mail and Electronic Transmission
Dear President Biden:
We, the undersigned unions representing hundreds of thousands of Americans working in the airline and rail industries, take pleasure in expressing our strong support of Deirdre Hamilton to serve as a Member on the National Mediation Board (NMB), and for sitting NMB member Linda Puchala’s reappointment to the board. We also urge you to make these appointments immediately. Unlike other federal agencies, the Trump-appointed NMB will remain in control until new board members are nominated and confirmed by the Senate. With each passing day, the Trump NMB is allowed more opportunity to suppress the voices of aviation and rail workers, stifle collective bargaining rights, and undermine the Biden-Harris pro-worker agenda.
Created by Congress through the Railway Labor Act (RLA), the NMB plays an essential role in the facilitation of labor-management relations in the aviation and rail industries. Collectively, our unions represent mechanics, pilots, flight attendants, engineers, conductors, and maintenance of way employees, among other critical roles. These workers are best served when the NMB is reliably staffed with public servants who understand the importance of collective bargaining and who, when disputes arise, will seek fair and timely resolutions. Both Ms. Hamilton and Ms. Puchala have impeccable qualifications for positions on the board, and have proven throughout their careers to be steadfast allies of workers.
With over 20 years of experience, Ms. Hamilton has represented workers before federal courts and with the NMB on a wide range of legal issues, including union elections, mediation, contract enforcement, and major and minor dispute claims, and has amassed an in-depth knowledge of the RLA and how it functions. For the past 6 years, Ms. Hamilton has served as the Staff Attorney to the Airline Division at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. She has held similar positions as a Senior Staff Attorney at the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO, and Legal Fellow at the International Association of Machinists. With her experience and command of the RLA, Ms. Hamilton would be in an excellent position to foster strong labor-management relations, protect the right of workers to form and join unions, and ensure that the mediation and arbitration duties of the Board are deployed to serve all stakeholders.
Ms. Puchala has served as a member of the NMB since her confirmation by the U.S. Senate in 2009. Prior to her service as a Board Member, Ms. Puchala worked as a Mediator, Sr. Mediator (ADR) and the Associate Director of Alternative Dispute Resolution Services over a 10-year career at the NMB. During her tenure, Ms. Puchala has demonstrated leadership and professionalism that has earned her the respect of both parties across the mediation table. Ms. Puchala has also pursued innovative strategies to resolve pending arbitration cases, sought to modernize the NMB’s management practices and has fought for policies that will protect the rights of workers to have a union voice. Ms. Puchala also obtained important labor relations experience as a former International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, and a Staff Director, Michigan State Employees Association, AFSCME.
The rail and aviation industries support good middle-class jobs that are critical to the economy and are even more important as the country seeks to recover from COVID-19 in the coming months and years. NMB members have an important role to play in protecting these jobs and expanding workforce opportunities in sectors covered by the RLA.
Air Line Pilots Association, International
Allied Pilots Association
American Train Dispatchers Association
Association of Flight Attendants, CWA
Association of Professional Flight Attendants
Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen
Communications Workers of America
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers
The National Mediation Board (NMB) announced Monday that Linda A. Puchala has been named chair of the board, effective July 1. Gerald Fauth III and Kyle Fortson remain as board members.
Puchala was confirmed as an NMB member by the United States Senate on May 21, 2009. She has been chair of the NMB for the following prior periods: May 2009 through June 30, 2009; July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012; July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014; and July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017. Her most recent Senate confirmation came on November 2, 2017.
Prior to becoming a member, Puchala served 10 years as an NMB mediator, senior mediator (ADR) and as associate director of alternative dispute resolution services.
Her prior labor-relations experience includes work as international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO and staff director, Michigan State Employees Association, AFSCME, AFL-CIO.
She resides in Glen Burnie, Md., and holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Cleary University in Howell, Mich.
WASHINGTON – Nicholas C. Geale, a Republican staff member of the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee, was nominated by President Obama Dec. 17 to be a member of the National Mediation Board, which administers the Railway Labor Act affecting railroads and airlines.
If confirmed by the Senate, Geale would take the now vacant Republican seat on the three-person NMB — the two Democratic seats currently being held by Harry Hoglander and Linda Puchala. The Republican seat had been held by Elizabeth Dougherty, who voluntarily departed the agency earlier this year following expiration of her term.
Hoglander holds an expired seat and is awaiting Senate reconfirmation to a fourth term on the NMB, having been renominated by President Obama in May 2011. The law permits NMB members to continue serving, following expiration of their term, until a successor is confirmed or they are reconfirmed. Typically, Republican and Democratic nominees are paired for confirmation. Previously, Republican nominee Thomas Beck withdrew his name after the Senate failed to take action on his nomination.
If the Senate fails to act on these nominations (Geale and/or Hoglander) prior to Dec. 31, the president would have to make new nominations when the new Congress is seated in 2013.
Geale currently is director of oversight and investigations for Republicans on the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee, a position he has held since 2011 when appointed by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.). Previously, Geale was counsel to the Republican members of the committee. He has also served as counsel to the deputy secretary of labor during the George W. Bush administration, and as an assistant general counsel with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. He earned a law degree from Georgetown University.
WASHINGTON – A former secretary-treasurer of the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen – Walt Barrows – is the new labor member of the Railroad Retirement Board following his Senate confirmation Sept. 27. He succeeds Butch Speakman, who chose to retire.
Barrows began his railroad career as a signalman with Norfolk & Western Railway (now part of Norfolk Southern) in 1974. Since 2004 – while holding his signalmen post — he has been the labor trustee of the National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust, a position earlier held by former UTU General Secretary and Treasurer Dan Johnson.
Separately, Democrat Harry Hoglander and Republican Thomas Beck are awaiting Senate action on their White House nominations to the National Mediation Board (NMB).
Hoglander, educated as an attorney, was nominated to a fourth three-year term to expire in June 2014. Before joining the NMB, he was a legislative aide to Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.), where he focused on aviation and rail issues. Previously, Hoglander retired as an Air Force fighter pilot, a Trans World Airlines pilot and executive vice president of the Air Line Pilots Association.
Beck, who would succeed Republican Elizabeth Dougherty (for a three-year term expiring in 2013), currently is a Senate-confirmed member of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), which administers labor-management relations for non-Postal Service federal employees. Previously, he was an attorney practicing labor and employment law. Beck also teaches, on a part-time basis, courses in legislation and public policy at George Mason University in Virginia.
The third member of the NMB is Democrat Linda Puchala, who was confirmed to her first three-year term in May 2009.