Faced with the Long Island Rail Road’s total rejection of Presidential Emergency Board 244’s recommendations, TCU and the other involved unions are actively preparing for a strike, which could come as early as March 21.
TCU is in a coalition with SMART-Transportation (UTU) and Mechanical (Sheet Metal Workers), and the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers-SEIU. A second coalition is comprised of the Signalmen, Electricians, and Machinists. The coalitions prepared a common presentation to PEB 244, and are coordinating their bargaining going forward.
There have been no negotiations since the PEB issued its recommendations on December 21. TCU National Vice President Joel Parker, who is the bargaining spokesman for the TCU-SMART-NCFO coalition, and Dennis Boston, Vice President of the Signalmen and spokesman for the other coalition, reached out to New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in December to schedule negotiations. MTA said they were distressed by the Board’s recommendations, and saw no reason to meet.
MTA subsequently testified on January 15 at a Public Hearing at the National Mediation Board that it rejected outright the PEB’s recommendations, and was sticking to its wage freeze proposal. MTA also declined to say whether it would invoke a second Presidential Emergency Board, which is permitted under the special commuter provisions of the Railway Labor Act.
Absent a second Board, the current cooling off period ends on March 21. TCU and all the unions have been preparing to strike on that date absent a negotiated agreement or second PEB. Strike votes have been taken, and the unions are dividing up picketing assignments.
If either MTA or Governor Cuomo asks for a second PEB, that Board would have to issue recommendations no later than May 20. Another cooling off period would ensue, ending on July 19.
PEB 244 totally rejected MTA’s demands for sweeping concessions in pensions, work rules, occupational disability, and retiree health insurance contributions. The Board also rejected MTA’s demands for a three year wage freeze, followed by two 2% raises in the last two years: 4% over five years. Instead, it recommended a wage settlement totalling 18.4% over six years, or 2.9% a year. After allowing for its recommendations for graduated employee health insurance contributions, the contract would net an average of 2.5% a year.
All the unions involved have stated they would accept the Board’s recommendations, setting up the current standoff with a recalcitrant MTA. The unions are taking their case to the public, both through the press, meetings with local elected officials, and a leafleting campaign that will start in the near future. The unions have also been meeting with other New York area unions. TWU Local 100, the influential 40,000 member union representing MTA subway and bus workers, has publicly declared its support of the Long Island workers’ struggle.
“If MTA stays with its head in the sand, workers be damned strategy, TCU/IAM will devote our full resources to support our Long Island members’ struggle for a fair contract,” said TCU President Bob Scardelletti. “The PEB has spoken; it’s time for MTA to stop playing reckless games. The unions on Long Island are united, and will see this through to a just resolution no matter what it takes.”
Click here to see our coalition’s public statement.
Click here to read a strong statement of support from TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen.
Click here to read the TWU News article in support of our coalition.