President Obama has nominated Linda Puchala to hold a seat on the National Mediation Board (NMB). The three-member NMB is the agency charged with overseeing collective bargaining and representation under the Railway Labor Act (RLA), which provides employees in the aviation and railroad industries the right to organize and bargain collectively. Puchala would take the seat currently held by Bush-appointee and NMB Chair Read Van de Water.
Puchala, a member of Obama’s transition team, served as president of the Association of Flight Attendants from 1979 to 1986. Puchala is currently a senior mediator and associate director of alternative dispute resolution services at the NMB. Not surprisingly, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) has applauded Puchala’s nomination. In a statement released after the announcement of her nomination, the union stated:
Over the past eight years, the NMB has repeatedly failed to fulfill its mission to promote collective bargaining and to provide and protect the rights of workers who seek to join a union. . . . Linda Puchala's experience within the agency will ensure a smooth transition to a new Board. Her commitment to workers' rights and to the collective bargaining process will help to restore the integrity of this vital federal agency. For years, the NMB has operated under arcane and unreasonable rules that make it difficult for workers to organize. We look forward to working with Ms. Puchala to ensure that the National Mediation Board adheres to its mission of protecting employees' right to organize without interference or influence from the employers and their multi-million dollar anti-worker campaigns.
In addition to her leadership position at the AFA-CWA, Puchala has worked as the Director of the Michigan State Employees Association, AFSCME, AFL-CIO. Puchala has been with the NMB since 1999, and holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Cleary University in Howell, Michigan.