Two Labor-Related Nominations Leave Me Scratching My Head

The first head-scratcher is the appointment of Allison Beck to lead the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services (FMCS). FMCS employs a lot of mediators and arbitrators that unions and companies use during labor negotiations and for conflict resolution. Many times over the years, I have relied upon the impartial advice and skills of FMCS personnel. I’m not so sure how impartial its personnel will remain under the leadership of Allison Beck. After having met Ms. Beck a few times over the years, I have nothing against her, personally. Rather, I question whether her pro-union background is suited to lead a team of nationally recognized neutrals – as I would question my own management-focused background to do the same. You see, for 20 years she served as the General Counsel of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union. Will her subordinates and new hires have pro-union bias? I hope not, but only time will tell.

The other nomination involves former Miami University, Ohio graduate Jessica Kahanek. I do not know Ms. Kahanek, but she was appointed as Press Secretary for the National Labor Relations Board. If my memory is correct, she is the first press secretary for the Board, which leaves me wondering why does the NLRB believe it needs a press secretary? Is the Board preparing itself for an onslaught of media coverage? Does the Board know that it will make even more controversial decisions in the near future? According to the press release, Ms. Kahanek “joins the Congressional and Public Affairs Office where she will serve as the primary spokesperson for the Agency and work to implement the Agency’s communication and outreach policies and objectives.”

Matt Austin is a lawyer based in the Columbus, Ohio office of Roetzel & Andress, LPA who limits his practice to representing employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 723-2010 or email him at