By:  Michele Haydel Gehrke

President Obama resubmitted his nominations for current National Mediation Board members Linda Puchala and Harry Hoglander to continue serving on the three-member Board.  This would be the second term for Puchala and the fourth term for Hoglander, both Democrats.  The current terms for both Puchala and Hoglander have already expired, but they continue to serve in accordance with the Railway Labor Act.  President Obama had previously nominated them in the 112 Congress, but the Senate did not act on the nominations before adjourning. 

In January, President Obama nominated Nicholas Christopher Gaele, a Republican, to fill the third seat on the Board after Elizabeth Dougherty resigned in June 2012.  Gaele is currently the director of oversight and investigations on the staff of Sen. Michael B. Enzi (R-Wyo.), the ranking committee member for the Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.  Gaele’s nomination is still awaiting action by the Senate. 

The NMB nominations come at a time when the Board is under increasing scrutiny from Congress following the passage of the Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act in February 2012, which increased oversight over the Board and limited its discretion in ordering an election to applications supported by at least a 50 percent “showing of interest” from the group of employees a union was seeking to organize.