President Obama formally tendered the nominations of Joseph C. Szabo as administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, and Linda A. Puchala to serve on the National Mediation Board.
That puts his choices in the hands of the Senate for confirmation, and moves closer to putting experienced labor union executives in two key positions that affect railroads and their unions.
Szabo heads the United Transportation Union’s Illinois state legislative office, and since January has been working in Washington to aid top UTU federal lobbyist James Stem on national issues. Stem took over that job after the death in December of former UTU National Legislative Director James Brunkenhoefer.
If confirmed, Szabo will take over the important rail safety agency, which also directs extensive equipment research projects into equipment and technology, and awards railroad improvement grants and loans. Szabo has a history of pursuing FRA penalties against railroads for rules infractions that involve rail labor.
Puchala would be one of three members of the NMB, which mediates disputes between companies and unions out of the Railway Labor Act, which covers airlines as well as railroads.
She was president of the Association of Flight Attendants from 1979 to 1986, and since 1999 has been at the NMB where she is currently a senior mediator and associate director of alternative dispute resolution services.
The president named her both to fill out a board term that expires July 1, and to a full term that expires July 1, 2012.
Contact John D. Boyd at email@example.com.