TCU-IAM, Long Island Rail Road Coalition Hold Solidarity Briefing

TCU-IAM National Vice-President and Assistant to the President Joel Parker addresses the media on the labor impasse between TCU-IAM’s Long Island Rail Road coalition partners and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

TCU-IAM and its Long Island Rail Road coalition partners – SMART and NCFO-SEIU – held an historic solidarity briefing with TWU Local 100 at the latter’s New York City headquarters on Friday, February 21.

Leaders from TCU-IAM, SMART and TWU Local 100 briefed the 50 public officials and staff present, including U.S. Reps. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), on the bargaining impasse with Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

The event was widely covered by the major media in New York City and Long Island, including every major television, radio and newspaper outlet.

Just a day earlier, a bipartisan letter signed by 12 New York-area members of Congress prompted MTA to commit to invoking a second Presidential Emergency Board (PEB), averting a strike that was scheduled for March 21. A strike looms in July if MTA cannot come to an agreement with TCU-IAM and its Long Island Rail Road coalition partners. 

But MTA has shown no sign of budging from its outright rejection of PEB 244’s recommendations to settle the dispute. All Long Island Rail Road unions that were involved in the PEB have signaled their willingness to accept the compromise recommendations.

TCU-IAM leaders, including National Vice President and Special Assistant to the President Joel Parker and National Vice President Arthur Maratea, sat at the head table with the leaders of the other coalition unions – Anthony Simon of SMART-UTU, John Lacey of IAM, Dean Devita of NCFO-SEIU, Charles Fraley of SMART-Sheet Metal, and TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen.

Parker then briefed the elected officials and press on the specifics of the negotiations and the PEB’s recommendations. Parker was selected by the coalition as bargaining table spokesman and gave the union testimony at the PEB.

“As Special Assistant to TCU-IAM National President Bob Scardelletti, I’m involved in all our union’s major negotiations, including National Freight, Amtrak and major commuters,” said Parker. “We usually succeed in the goal of reaching voluntary agreements without the help of PEBs, but where that hasn’t worked, we’ve had PEBs on Amtrak, National Freight, and Metro North.

“In every case, the unions and railroad settled immediately on the basis of the PEBs recommendations. That is exactly what Congress intended when they enacted the Railway Labor Act, and then amended it for commuter railroads with section 9(a). The goal was to avoid the devastating economic impact of rail strikes by having a panel of neutral expert arbitrators recommend compromise terms for settlement.

“For the first time in my 35-year union career, I have seen a rail carrier spit in the face of a PEB’s recommendations, and publicly say it will only bargain if we agree to go back to square one and pretend that the PEB never existed. This is unprecedented and reckless behavior. If allowed to continue, it will result in a shutdown of vital transportation to the great city of New York.”