District Lodge 19

where it all begin

DISTRICT LODGE 19 NEWS

 

 

 

 

National negotiations have been underway and the IAM, as well as our coalition partners, have met with the National Carrier’s Conference Committee (NCCC) on several occasions. We are currently discussing issues that could potentially affect the National Health and Welfare Plan. Some issues that the NCCC has brought to the table are concerns over rising healthcare costs and the potential cost increases associated with Affordable Care Act’s 2018 excise tax on certain healthcare plans.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides many benefits for middle class Americans, such as, the ability for children to remain on their parents’ plans until age 26, mandating that insurance companies cannot deny coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and the elimination of annual and/or lifetime limits on healthcare. However, as it currently stands, the law calls for an excise tax of 40% for healthcare customers who receive benefits above $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage.

There have been bipartisan efforts to repeal this portion of the ACA, none of which have been successful up to this point. Two bills have been recently introduced in the House: one by Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney of Connecticut that has 132 cosponsors and one by Republican Rep. Frank Guinta of New Hampshire that has 81 cosponsors. A Senate bill could be introduced this month, when the chamber returns from its summer recess.

Our benefits, as they stand now, do not exceed the threshold for the excise tax however, there is concern that rising costs of healthcare could change this by 2018. We will continue to urge legislators to repeal the excise tax in order to gain valuable leverage in this round of bargaining. We will also be working toward solutions to this potential problem that will not compromise the benefits that railroad Machinists have won over the last 100 years of bargaining.

We intend to update you as soon as any progress is made in overcoming this hurdle. We encourage each of you to call your Senators and Congresspersons and urge them to repeal the looming excise tax.

 

Locomotive Machinists on the Paducah and Louisville Railroad just ratified a new 5 year contract with over 75% of our members voting in favor of the agreement. “After a year and a half in negotiations, I believe we achieved a contract our members can be proud of”, said General Chairman Andrew Sandberg. 

 

Pertinent details are as follows:

  • Rolled in the 17 cent COLA produced to this point after the last General Wage Increase (GWI) just ahead of first GWI in this agreement (7/1/14).
  • Did not modify the Medical Plan proposal in terms of no plan changes but increases based on size of family unit to be covered.
  • Increased annual max on dental to $1500 which matches National.
  • Increased match max on 401(k) from $500 to $750.
  • Allow personal leave day carry-over in even years to odd years.
  • Added Spouse's Step-parent to covered persons in Bereavement Leave rule.
  • Increased daily payout on Supplemental Sickness.
  • Kept the 3% General Wage Increases (GWI's) starting in 2014 and each year for term.
  • Added rule to be reimbursed for CDL and added .50 differential when necessary to drive commercial vehicle.

“I am extremely pleased with the work of everyone involved with negotiating this agreement on the Paducah and Louisville Railroad. Their efforts have ensured that our members received a wage and benefits package that reflects their hard work and dedication on the job”, said President/Directing General Chairman Jeff Doerr.

For the full text of the agreement, click here.

 

Presidential Emergency Board 248 has issued its recommendations to settle the four year contract dispute between New Jersey Transit and the Rail Labor Coalition of fourteen unions representing 4,300 union workers.
  

The recommendations on the major issues of wages and health insurance contributions fall much closer to the terms proposed by the Coalition than those proposed by New Jersey Transit, although the Board did backload its wage recommendations to accommodate the railroad’s budgetary concerns. 

The PEB found that the Coalition proposals were appropriately based on settlements in the commuter industry, while the company’s unprecedented reliance on a state worker concessionary contract was not persuasive.  

Coalition spokespersons said, “The Presidential Emergency Board, composed of three veteran, distinguished neutrals, has proposed terms that represent a reasonable compromise approach to settlement. We sincerely hope that New Jersey Transit will now take this opportunity to bring this protracted dispute to an end.”

           

Summary of PEB 248’s Recommendations

 

Wages:

The Board recommends wage increases totaling 18.4% in compounded wage increases over 6-1/2 years, or 2.6% per year. When increases in health insurance contributions are factored in, the recommendation is for 17.7% over term, or 2.5% a year. (The complete proposed wage schedule is attached at the end of this article.)


Health Insurance:

The Board recommends going from a monthly fixed dollar employee contribution of $81.95 a month to a system where employees would pay a percentage of weekly straight time earnings.

The current $81.95 equates to 1.8% of the average straight time weekly rate. The Board recommends that the 1.8% rise to 2% retroactive to January 1, 2012, and then to 2.5% on January 1, 2017. (The retroactive increase would be deducted from back pay.) The average contribution at 2.5% would be approximately $134 a month. Employees who make more than the average wage would pay more; those who make less would pay less.

The PEB rejected New Jersey Transit’s proposal for a new inferior insurance plan that would be mandatory for new hires.

The PEB also rejected the company’s proposal to make employees responsible for 50% of whatever excise tax exposure the insurance plan may incur under the Affordable Care Act.

The Board recommends that the current $5 co-pay for doctor’s visits rise to $10 on January 1, 2016, and then to $15 on January 1, 2017. The Board further recommends that the co-pay for emergency room visits rise to $70 on January 1, 2016, and that, also on that date, maintenance drugs will have to be filled by mail order. The PEB rejected the company’s proposal to raise prescription drug co-pays.    
    

Ridership Passes:

The PEB rejected New Jersey Transit’s proposal to eliminate employee ridership passes.


New Hire 401(a) Contributions:

The PEB recommends that for employees hired after ratification, carrier contributions to the 401(a) plan start at 1% of earnings for the first year, and then increase by 1% each year until it reaches the current 5% received by existing employees. The Board rejected the company’s proposal to reduce contributions to a percentage of straight time earnings only. Contributions will continue to be based on gross earnings for both existing and new employees.


Conductor Certification Pay:

The PEB recommends that, upon ratification, all employees who have FRA Conductor Certification receive 20 minutes pay at the straight time rate for all full shifts worked as Conductors. This would apply to Assistant Conductors when working Conductor positions. For employees working partial shifts as a Conductor, the certification pay will be prorated.

 

What The Presidential Emergency Board Said (Excerpts)

 

Overall: 

“We have been mindful of the current fiscal climate and the funding challenges faced by the Carrier and how those factors must appropriately be balanced with the reasonable expectations of the workers who occupy a major role in the successful operation of the rail transit system at NJT.”

On Wages 

“… over the years wage settlements at NJT have closely followed the general trend of wage changes at the other large commuter railroads in the region, including LIRR, Metro-North, SEPTA and MBTA. …the Board’s recommendations are consistent with the average annual uncompounded wage increases at the four other large commuter rail carriers.”

“The average annual wage increases of all four of these commuter railroads is 2.6%, the same nominal wage rate increase recommended by the Board.”

“Historically, PEBs have not accorded significant weight to state employee agreements, with good reason.”

“The Carrier proposes a 1.4% nominal wage increase, which is further reduced by the employee health insurance contributions it seeks in this proceeding. When those contributions are factored in, the Carrier’s proposed net increase in wages is 0.6%, far outside the realm of any comparative analysis.”

“… the Carrier’s wage proposals, if adopted, would almost certainly result in the decrease of real wages for Coalition employees.”

“The recommended wage increases have been structured to lessen the impact of retroactivity by reducing the percentage wage increases during the first years of the agreement. … However, NJT’s funding uncertainties and its decision not to set aside monetary place holders for fiscal years 2012, 2013 and 2014 do not relieve the Board of its responsibility to recommend wage increases otherwise shown to be appropriate.”

On Health Insurance 

“If the Carrier’s proposal regarding both wage increases and contributions to health insurance were implemented, the average health insurance contribution on January 1, 2019… would have risen from $81.95 per employee per month to $459.54 (or even more, if premiums rose more rapidly than anticipated). … the Carrier’s proposal falls outside the current health insurance contribution trends in the industry.”

“Our recommendation would move the employees’ contributions from 1.8% to 2.5%, which we do not consider an unwarranted increase.”

 

 

What Happens Next

 

The Coalition and NJT have until November 12 to negotiate a voluntary agreement. If no agreement is reached by that time, either side or the Governor can invoke a second Presidential Emergency Board. That PEB will select the most reasonable final offer. Its recommendation again will be non-binding. The parties will then have until March 11, 2016, to reach a voluntary agreement. If no agreement is reached, self-help would then be possible.

The Coalition believes PEB 248’s recommendations provide a fair compromise and the basis of a voluntary agreement. New Jersey Transit is still evaluating the recommendations and deciding on its next steps. No negotiations have yet been scheduled.

 

[FROM THE PEB REPORT]

PEB 248

SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS

General Wage Increases:

Effective Date   Wage Increase

07/01/11              0.0%

01/01/12              0.5%

07/01/12              1.0%

01/01/13              1.0%

07/01/13              1.5%

01/01/14              1.5%

07/01/14              1.5%

01/01/15              1.5%

07/01/15              1.5%

01/01/16              1.5%

07/01/16              2.0%

01/01/17              1.5%

07/01/17              2.0%

01/01/18              Amendable

The Parties are to meet and agree upon appropriate procedures for the calculation and payment of back pay.

Contract Duration:

July 1, 2011 - December 31, 2017, with an Amendable Date of January 1, 2018

Health Insurance Contributions Levels and Plan Design:

Effective Date   Health Care Contribution

07/01/11              1.80%

01/01/12              2.00%

07/01/12              2.00%

01/01/13              2.00%

07/01/13              2.00%

01/01/14              2.00%

07/01/14              2.00%

01/01/15              2.00%

07/01/15              2.00%

01/01/16              2.00%

07/01/16              2.00%

01/01/17              2.50%

07/01/17              2.50%

01/01/18              Amendable

Co-pays

January 1, 2016 - $10 for in-network doctors' office visits

January 1, 2017 - $15 for in-network doctors' office visits

January 1, 2016 - $70 for emergency room visits

January 1, 2016 - Mandatory mail order prescription service for maintenance drugs

The Parties are to negotiate concerning any implementation of a new health insurance plan.

Conductor Certification Pay:

Effective on the date of ratification, all employees who have their FRA Conductor Certification receive 20 minutes pay, at the straight time rate, for all full shifts worked as Conductors. For partial shifts, certification pay is to be allocated according to the number of hours worked as a Conductor on any one shift.

New Hire 401(a) Contributions:

Carrier contributions for employees hired after ratification: 1% of gross wages for first year of employment, 2% for second year, 3% for third year, 4% for fourth year and 5% for fifth year and thereafter.

Ridership Passes:

No recommendation.

Work Rules:

No recommendation.

 

For the full report, click here.

 

PRESIDENTIAL EMERGENCY BOARD 248

CONCLUDES ORAL HEARINGS

 

PEB 248 is now working on its Report after hearing testimony on the New Jersey Transit contract dispute from union and company witnesses at a four day hearing held July 27 through July 30 in Newark, New Jersey.

      

The three member panel of arbitrators – Chairman Elizabeth Wesman, Barbara Deinhardt, and Ann Kenis – will issue their non-binding recommendations on August 14.

 

Union Coalition witnesses presented a strong case as to why their proposal for a contract patterned after the Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road settlements was fair and reasonable.

 

New Jersey Transit witnesses, including Executive Director Ronnie Hakim, argued that NJT could not afford the union’s proposal. Instead, NJT proposed draconian increases in employee health insurance contributions, a wholly new health plan with far lower benefits that would be mandatory for new hires, the elimination of employee passes, and meager wage increases that would be virtually wiped out by the new high contributions.

 

Specifically, the Union Coalition proposed a six year contract with 17% in total wages, averaging 2.9% compounded each year. The Coalition proposed that health insurance contributions mirror what was agreed to on Metro-North and Long Island: 2% of an employee’s weekly straight time earnings. The Coalition also proposed certification pay for employees working Conductor positions, and automatic upward adjustment of supplemental sickness rates tied to wage increases.

      

NJT, by contrast, proposed a 7-1/2 year contract with 10.9% in wage increases, plus a $1,000 lump sum. Health insurance contributions would reach 20% of the premium cost by the end of the contract, which for families in the PPO plan would be estimated to be almost $600 per month.

      

Union witnesses testified that the company proposals were out of line with every other commuter settlement, and utterly unreasonable.

      

Union economist Tom Roth demonstrated that under the company proposed health care contributions, fully one third of the workforce would suffer pay cuts over the life of the contract.

      

After the PEB issues its recommendations, the Coalition and NJT will return to the bargaining table. If no agreement can be reached, either side or the Governor can invoke a second Presidential Emergency Board by November 12.

      

Spokespersons for the Coalition released the following statement after the PEB hearings: “All eleven unions presented a united, powerful case that our proposal for a contract settlement patterned after other regional commuter settlements was the fairest way to a settlement. We believe we presented our case in a thorough, professional manner, and, that in the end, justice will prevail.”

 

After four years of negotiations with New Jersey Transit (NJT), the NJT Rail Labor Coalition was recently released from mediation by the National Mediation Board (NMB). The coalition sought release after it became clear that NJT would not make a reasonable offer. The coalition has proposed settlements patterned after the contracts achieved this round of bargaining on Long Island Railroad and Metro-North Railroad. NJT insists on concessionary contracts, with employees with families paying more than four times what they currently pay for health benefits.

Following the release from mediation, the coalition requested that President Obama form a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) to assist in achieving a fair, voluntary agreement. Yesterday, President Obama named a PEB to aid in negotiations. "The transit rail system is vital to our nation's economy, and it's crucial that we ensure it runs smoothly," President Obama said in a statement. "That's why I'm grateful these talented individuals have agreed to serve the American people by helping to swiftly and appropriately resolve these labor-management disputes."  The board will hear arguments from each side and issue non-binding recommendations within 30 days.

The chairperson of the PEB, Elizabeth Wesman, served on the second PEB for Long Island Railroad negotiations last year. Barbara Deinhardt, former chairwoman of the New York State Employment Relations Board and Ann Kenis, a professional arbitrator for the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and American Arbitration Association, will be the other two members of the board. The formation of this PEB will start a 120 day cooling off period in which neither the workers or NJT can resort to self-help.

“The appointment of this PEB is a major step in ensuring that our members achieve a fair agreement”, said General Chairman Gary Naylor. “I am confident that our case for a settlement patterned after the other commuter railroads in the northeast is stronger than NJT’s case for a concessionary contract.”

We intend to keep you up to date on this matter as events unfold.

 

6.16.15

 

Attn: District Lodge 19 Machinists

 

Yesterday, the National Mediation Board released from mediation the Unions representing the employees of New Jersey Transit (NJT). The unions, working together in the New Jersey Transit Rail Labor Coalition, immediately announced their intention to invoke a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB), which will make non-binding recommendations to settle the four year old contract dispute.

 

The Coalition includes every rail union on NJT, representing more than 4,000 commuter workers.

 

“By announcing our intention to invoke a PEB, we want to remove any fears the riding public may have that a strike could occur in July. Our goal is to reach a voluntary agreement. We are optimistic that a neutral PEB will find reasonable our proposals to follow the pattern settlements reached on New York commuter railroads. There is simply no justification for the workers we represent to fall further behind their counterparts on Long Island and Metro-North Railroads”, said the coalition spokesmen.

 

Negotiations for new contracts began on July 1, 2011. NMB efforts at mediation have failed to produce any agreements, prompting today’s releases. Under the governing Railway Labor Act, self-help would be possible at 12:01 AM, July 16, 2015, unless one of the involved Governors, the commuter agency or unions request that President Obama appoint a Presidential Emergency Board. Once appointed, the PEB will have thirty days to hold hearings and issue non-binding recommendations to settle the dispute. Creation of the PEB will start a 120 day cooling-off period during which neither side can resort to self-help.

 

We will keep you updated with additional news as it develops.

 

6.12.15 - District Lodge 19 has been working hand in hand with legislators to help create well-paying IAM jobs. As we are well aware, IAM membership growth greatly increases our strength in all facets of the collective bargaining process. As we continue to grow in number and strength, we will gain critical leverage that will result in better contracts for our members across America.

Today, at Alstom Transport in Hornell NY, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, along with AP/DGC John Lacey and GC Gary Naylor, urged the Department of Transportation (USDOT) to green light Amtrak's efforts to buy brand new Acela trains. Schumer said the roughly $3 billion train project could significantly improve rail safety and Amtrak service, as well as boost the local economy and create hundreds of good paying middle-class jobs in communities like Hornell. Schumer explained that Amtrak is currently seeking the necessary federal approvals to purchase new high-speed trains for the Acela service along the Northeast Corridor, which could mean great things for Upstate New York.

“Allowing Amtrak to purchase new Acela trains would be a huge step forward in improving rail safety and service in the northeast. This could have the potential to create good-paying, middle-class jobs for Upstate New Yorkers at companies like Alstom…” said Schumer. “That’s why I’m calling on the U.S. Department of Transportation to give Amtrak the federal approvals needed to produce new, state-of-the-art trains from companies like these. This could be a win-win-win that would improve rail safety, bring jobs to Upstate New York, and improve the Amtrak experience for passengers along the entire Northeast Corridor.”

Schumer explained that the Amtrak procurement process could also help create substantial opportunities for U.S. companies – like Alstom. Once Amtrak gains approval to purchase these trains, Senator Schumer hopes to bring these jobs to his state. If awarded to Alstom, this contract could provide a big boost to our membership in Upstate New York. Alstom anticipates that, if awarded this contract, it will create 500+ new Machinist jobs in Hornell.

Additionally, Senator Schumer praised the IAM and District Lodge 19 for their efforts on Capitol Hill and their steadfast work in negotiating excellent labor agreements for the Machinists at Alstom and around the country.

 

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WASHINGTON — The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today issued a safety advisory recommending actions that passenger railroads take to prevent trains from speeding.  The advisory is the latest in a series of steps FRA has taken to keep passenger railroads safe for the traveling public.

“Today the FRA is taking a smart and targeted approach to addressing a major issue involved in recent passenger rail accidents,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “Safety is our top priority at the Department, and today’s advisory is but one step we are taking to raise the bar on safety for passenger rail.”

The FRA recommends that passenger railroads immediately take the following actions to control passenger train speeds:

Identify locations where there is a reduction of more than 20 mph from the approach speed to a curve or bridge and the maximum authorized operating speed for passenger trains at that curve or bridge.

Modify Automatic Train Control (ATC) systems (if in use) to ensure compliance with speed limits.

If the railroad does not use ATC, ensure that all passenger train movements through the identified locations be made with a second qualified crew member in the cab of the controlling locomotive, or with constant communication between the locomotive engineer and an additional qualified and designated crewmember in the body of the train.

Install additional wayside signage alerting engineers and conductors of the maximum authorized passenger train speed throughout the passenger railroad’s system, with particular emphasis on additional signage at the identified locations.

“The FRA fully expects passenger railroads to take immediate action and implement these recommendations,” said Acting Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg.  “We will continue to take action in the coming weeks to prevent human error from causing accidents and to keep passengers safe on the nation’s railroads.”

To view a copy of the Safety Advisory, click HERE.

 

Amtrak's Northeast Regional Train 188 from Washington, D.C., to New York City was carrying 238 passengers and five crew members when it derailed soon after 9 p.m. ET Tuesday, throwing all seven cars into disarray along the busy New York-Philadelphia corridor.

For more information, please visit: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/05/13/fatal-train-crash/27222401/

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