Max Kampelman sits down at the table in Geneva today with a wealth of negotiating experience at his fingertips. And through his recent promotion as counselor to the State Department, he also has more clout. Mr. Kampelman, the son of a Bronx hat salesman, began his public career as an organizer for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union in the 1930s. A Democrat who kept far away from leftist and communist sympathizers, he fought the communist movement within the union. Granted conscientious objector status during World War II, Kampelman wrote his doctoral dissertation on communist attempts to control the Congress of Industrial Organizations.
Kampelman joined the Senate staff of Hubert Humphrey in 1949. He remained one of Mr. Humphrey's closest advisers for six years before going into private legal practice.
President Jimmy Carter put Kampelman in charge of the American delegation to ``follow up'' talks on the 1975 Helsinki agreements signed by Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and former President Gerald Ford. As ambassador to the European Security Conference in Madrid, Kampelman was reappointed to that post by President Reagan and conducted negotiations among 35 nations for almost three years, until 1983. By his own estimates, Kampelman spent a total of nearly 400 hours in private discussions with the Soviets. During this time, he earned kudos from Republicans and Democrats alike for his sharp criticism of the Soviet Union.
Kampelman has since made six trips abroad for the State Department, including stops in El Salvador. He has advised former Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale and acted as legal adviser to Attorney General Edwin Meese during inquiry into Mr. Meese's finances.