May 20, 2014 — Presidential Emergency Board No. 245 ruled today that “that the Unions’ final offer is the most reasonable” in the four year old bargaining dispute between TCU and its allied unions and the Long Island Rail Road.?
The PEB Report sets in motion a final sixty day cooling off period. If no agreement is reached during that time, TCU and the other unions can strike on July 19.?
Under the Railway Labor Act’s special 9a provisions for disputes involving commuter railroads, if the parties do not reach agreement after a first Presidential Emergency Board issues its recommendations, a second PEB is convened to decide which side’s final offer is the most reasonable.?
On December 21, 2013, the first Presidential Emergency Board, No. 244, recommended a six year contract with 17.9% in compounded wage increases. The Board also recommended that employees begin paying health insurance premiums, which reduced the net value of the proposed contract to 2.5% a year. The Board rejected Long Island Rail Road’s proposal for sweeping pension, work rule, and other concessions.
TCU, along with its coalition partners IAM, SMART, and NCFO-SEIU, submitted the recommendations of the first Emergency Board to PEB 245 as its final offer.
MTA, which conducted the bargaining for Long Island Rail Road, rejected PEB 244’s recommendations as a basis for settlement. Instead, MTA proposed as its final offer what it claimed was equivalent value to a deal it reached on April 17, 2014, four days before PEB 245 hearings began, with TWU Local 100 representing 35,000 New York Transit Authority workers. The offer was for 11% in wage increases over six years, with a 2% employee contribution to health insurance, major pension concessions, and a new reduced rate progression for new employees.
PEB 245 decisively ruled for the unions. The three member panel, comprised of renowned arbitrators Joshua Javits as Chairman, and David Vaughn and Elizabeth Wesman as Members, wrote, “The Unions’ final offer … represents a reasonable balance addressing the priorities of both parties.”?
In rejecting MTA’s final offer, the Board found “that the Carrier’s final offer is not the Transit Authority-Local 100 agreement, but something significantly different, both in particulars, in value to the employees and in cost to the MTA/LIRR… Moreover, the Board notes that the LIRR final proposal, like the Transit Authority-Local 100 agreement, is structured on a slightly enhanced version of the New York State employees’ agreements. Broadly, wage and pension proposals are quite similar. As Emergency Board 244 noted, State employee agreements have virtually never constituted valid comparator or patterns for commuter railroads. The labor markets, skills, history, and operations are completely different.”?
TCU President Bob Scardelletti hailed the Report as a fair and honest appraisal of the parties’ positions. “This should put the nail in the coffin to MTA’s misguided efforts to try to ram down the throats of our Long Island members, totally unacceptable contract terms,” said Scardelletti. “How many expert neutrals have to tell them that their position is unfair and unacceptable? The time for them to settle is now.”?
TCU Vice President and Special Assistant to the President Joel Parker, who is the bargaining spokesman for the TCU-IAM-SMART-NCFO coalition, called upon MTA “to accept reality and sign the PEB recommended contract immediately.”?
TCU National Vice President Artie Maratea added, “Our members and all the hard working men and women on Long Island Rail Road have waited long enough. We sincerely hope MTA will not cling to its twice-rejected position. But we are fully prepared to strike on July 19 if MTA continues to stonewall.”?
Click here to read the complete Report of PEB 245.