IAM and TCU-IAM members at the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) will strike on Sunday, July 20, 2014 if the commuter rail company continues to refuse contract negotiations, say union leaders.
“After a unanimous vote from the Long Island Rail Road Local Chairmen and pursuant to my authority under Article 13, Section 22 and Article 18, Section 1(c) of the Constitutions/By-Laws of our Union, I hereby order a strike of all TCU members on the Long Island Rail Road to commence at 12:01 a.m., on Sunday, July 20, 2014 in the event that the parties are unable to reach agreement prior to the expiration of the cooling off period,” said TCU President Bob Scardelletti.
The LIRR’s IAM District 19 members also voted overwhelmingly to strike. “Our LIRR members voted 144-1 to strike the carrier on July 20,” said IAM General Vice President Sito Pantoja, “and the entire organization is prepared to stand behind them.”
“If we fail to strike, the company will impose its changes,” continued Scardelletti. “Meaning that the company would be rewarded for its steadfast refusal to engage in meaningful negotiations. We can never let that happen. We must defend ourselves.”
Since early 2010, the IAM and TCU have been trying to negotiate an agreement with the LIRR without success.
Over the last four years, LIRR has remained steadfast in its insistence that all of its unions agree to unusually harsh and unrealistic contract demands, including three years of “net zero” wage increases. After numerous fruitless bargaining and mediation sessions, the National Mediation Board (NMB) released the parties from mediation, leading to the creation of Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) 244 in October 2013.
PEB 244 issued its recommendations on December 21, 2013. While IAM and TCU members didn’t obtain everything it sought, the unions felt the report was well reasoned and represented a fair compromise between the parties. They advised that they were willing to accept the PEB’s recommendations.
The company rejected the report at an NMB public hearing in January.
This has now brought about a second PEB in this dispute, PEB 245. The Board has until Tuesday, May 20, 2014 to issue its final report, at which time there will be a final 60-day cooling-off period, which expires at the end of day, Saturday, July 19, 2014.