Senate Re-Ups Rail-Airline Labor Mediation Board

The U.S. Senate on March 7 confirmed the nominations of a complete three-person membership of the National Mediation Board, the special federal agency that arbitrates and mediates disputes under the Railway Labor Act (RLA). All three were confirmed by voice votes.

The RLA is the statute that governs labor organization in the railroad and airline industries (and anything else classified as an “express carrier”). In recognition of the widespread damage that transportation labor disruptions can do to the national economy in a fairly short time, the RLA establishes a more cumbersome process that must be completed before a strike or lockout can take place (as opposed to the process under the National Labor Relations Act, which governs everyone not subject to the RLA). The RLA also gives Congress the power to impose terms that end labor disputes (as they did in 2022).

Two of the three Board members confirmed last night were incumbents – current Board chair Deirdre Hamilton has been confirmed to serve through July 2025, and Linda Puchala has been confirmed to serve through July 2027.

The other incumbent, Gerald Fauth, is retiring and has now been replaced by longtime Congressional labor committee staffer Loren Sweatt, who has been confirmed through July 2026.

The Board is subject to the usual requirement that all three members cannot be from the same political party, so Sweatt is replacing Fauth as the Republican member.

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