President Creates Emergency Board for Rail Negotiations

As expected, the President of the United States created a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) in the negotiation dispute between a coalition of rail unions (including the IAM and TCU/IAM) and the nation’s Class 1 Freight Rail carriers represented by the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC). Direct bargaining began in January 2010, with the IAM requesting federal mediation in July of the same year. The IAM represents 8,000 members under the NCCC’s National Agreement.

On September 2, 2011, the National Mediation Board (NMB) made a proffer of arbitration to the IAM, TCU/IAM and the nine other rail unions negotiating with the NCCC. The eleven rail unions uniformly rejected arbitration, while the carriers accepted. However, the Railway Labor Act requires both parties to accept arbitration. On September 6, the NMB officially released all parties from mediation into a mandatory 30-day cooling-off period.

If a PEB had not been empaneled, the IAM and other rail unions would have been free to strike the carriers on October 7th. The PEB has 30 days to hold hearings and make recommendations for settlement to the president.

“The last time the IAM was involved in a PEB was when President Bush created one at Amtrak in 2007,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “That PEB supported the reasonable positions we presented, and we believe this PEB will do the same.”

The IAM expected and welcomes the PEB. “We have been meeting with our attorneys, economists and benefits specialists in preparation for a PEB hearing,” said IAM Railroad Coordinator and District 19 President Joe Duncan.  “The PEB’s recommendations for settlement will lead to serious negotiations, which is something we have not received from the carriers to this point.”

Following the PEB’s recommendations, the parties will begin a second 30-day cooling-off period in which they can continue negotiating for an agreement based on the PEB’s recommendations.  If no agreement is reached, all parties are free to engage in self-help after the second cooling-off period.

The latest information about the PEB and all rail negotiations is available at the IAM’s District 19 website, www.iamdl19.org.