Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law – Currently Does Not Apply to TCU Members

In November of 2014, voters approved the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law (“ESTL”) which requires private employers with 11 or more employees to provide paid sick leave to employees who work in Massachusetts.

In June of 2015, TCU/IAM National President Scardelletti sent letters to all carriers impacted by the law inquiring how the carriers would implement the new law. The carriers that responded advised that the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (“RUIA”) preempted the ESTL and thus they had no plans to implement the law.

On July 30, 2015, CSX Transportation, CSX Intermodal, Amtrak, and Springfield Terminal Railroads filed suit in the United States District Court against the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The complaint alleged in three counts that the ESTL is preempted by the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (“RUIA”) Count 1, the Railway Labor Act (“RLA”) Count 2, and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) Count 3, and therefore the State should be prohibited from enforcing the ESTL. The parties agreed to split the three counts and litigate the RUIA claim in Phase 1 and the RLA and ERISA claims in Phase 2.

In March 2016, the Carriers moved for summary judgement on the Phase 1 RUIA claim. On July 13, 2016, the Court ruled in favor of the Carriers and allowed the motion for partial summary judgement on Phase 1 of the litigation. The Court held that “the statutory text of the RUIA reflects clear congressional intent that the RUIA preempts all state law including the ESTL that relate to sickness benefits.”

The State is planning to appeal to the First Circuit Court. If so, it might take a year or more before the appellate court renders a decision.

As it stands now, the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law does not apply to TCU Members in Massachusetts under the Railway Labor Act. The Court’s decision only applies to railroad, commuter, or other workers covered by the RUIA.

TCU/IAM will continue to keep all members apprised of future developments, including the pending Phase 2 litigation.