By letter dated December 14, 2010, the National Mediation Board (NMB) turned down TCU’s November 3 request for a proffer of arbitration in its negotiations with the national freight railroads. Click here to see NMB letter.

Similar denials were mailed by the NMB to the IAM, IBEW, ATDA, and TWU, all of whom are bargaining in coalition with TCU Carmen and Clerks and all of whom asked to be released.

Under the Railway Labor Act, a proffer of arbitration is tantamount to the parties being released for self help. In this case, had the NMB proffered arbitration, the unions would have rejected the proffer. The White House would then have appointed a Presidential Emergency Board, which would hold hearings and issue non-binding recommendations for settlement. The parties would then either reach agreement based on the recommendations, or be free to resort to self help.

By rejecting TCU and the other coalition unions’ request, the NMB has decided to keep the parties in mediation for now. The next negotiations are scheduled in January, 2011.

“We are very disappointed with the NMB’s decision,” says TCU President Bob Scardelletti. “However, it is not unusual for the NMB to reject a party’s first request for release.”

“We will continue our fight for a fair and just agreement at the bargaining table, an agreement that reflects the carriers’ record profits,” adds Scardelletti. “But if the carriers persist in their position that there should be massive cost shifting to employees in our national health plan, we will be knocking at the NMB’s door once again. I am confident that this NMB will not permit this impasse to go on very much longer.”