NMB logo; National Mediation BoardWASHINGTON – 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.