Monday, April 15, 2013

Will NMB expand to three?

Written by  Frank N. Wilner, Contributing Editor
Harry Hoglander, NMB Harry Hoglander, NMB
Democrats Harry Hoglander (pictured) and Linda Puchala—each with an airline labor union background—have been renominated by President Obama for additional terms on the three-member National Mediation Board, which administers the Railway Labor Act.

They now face Senate confirmation, along with Republican Nicholas Geale, who was nominated by Obama in January for a first three-year term.

However, Geale’s three-year term will expire this July, while the new three-year terms for Hoglander and Puchala will expire, respectively, in July 2014 and July 2015. The reason the terms do not appear as three years is because the Senate failed to hold confirmation hearings on previous NMB nominations. All had to be renominated in 2013 following the seating of a new Congress.

The Railway Labor Act provides that NMB members may continue serving indefinitely following expiration of their terms until the Senate reconfirms them or confirms new nominees.

Geale, if confirmed, will succeed Republican Elizabeth Dougherty, who resigned in July 2012 following expiration of her second term. Since, the NMB has functioned with just two members—Hoglander and Puchala.

In 2011, Obama nominated Republican Thomas Beck to succeed Dougherty, but after the Senate failed to hold a confirmation hearing on his nomination, he withdrew his name, setting the stage for nomination of Geale.

If confirmed by the Senate, Hoglander’s term will be his fourth, while Puchala’s will be her second.

Geale currently is a senior staff attorney on the Senate Labor Committee, and previously was an attorney in the Labor Department.

Hoglander, an attorney and NMB member since 2002, previously was a senior staff member for former House member John Tierney (D-Mass.), an executive vice president of the Air Line Pilots Association, an airline captain flying for TWA, and a U.S. Air Force pilot.

Puchala, an NMB member since 2009, previously was an NMB mediator and International President of the Association of Flight Attendants.

No date has been set by the Senate Labor Committee for confirmation hearings.