District Lodge 19

where it all begin

DISTRICT LODGE 19 NEWS

 

 

 

 

Talks between the eleven unions in the NJT Rail Labor Coalition and negotiators from New Jersey Transit continued today, but no agreement was reached. Both sides pledged to continue negotiating.

 

Today’s talks were the first since Presidential Emergency Board 249 selected the unions’ final offer as the “most reasonable”.

 

Under Section 9a of the Railway Labor Act, which is the law covering NJT commuter rail workers, the cooling off period expires 12:01 am on March 13. If no deal is reached by then, the unions can strike and/or NJT can lock its workers out. A strike or lockout can only be ended by the parties agreeing to a settlement, or Congress passing a law to end the dispute, which both sides believe would be highly unlikely.

 

The unions adopted the impartial recommendations of President Emergency Board 248 as our final offer. The recommendations call for a contract averaging 2.5% a year coupled with significant increases in employee health care contributions. NJT’s offer is for 0.6% net wage increases per year. The two Presidential Boards consisted of six experienced and expert arbitrators appointed by President Obama.

                                                                                                  

Coalition spokesmen said, “The last thing we want is a strike. We have gone five years without a contract. Our settlement proposal is modest and fair. All we are asking is what has been recommended by two expert neutral panels. Congress changed the Railway Labor Act to try to prevent commuter work stoppages by having a second PEB recommend the most reasonable offer, with penalties imposed on the side that doesn’t accept the recommendationThat has almost always led to a settlement. Yet now NJT refuses. We call upon NJT to end this dispute without disruption to the riding public.”

 

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

 

On Friday, January 22, 2016, members of Local Lodge 498, out of Chicago, IL, voted to ratify a new six year agreement with METRA Commuter Rail.

This six-year agreement provides for substantial wage increases (over 20% when compounded) with retroactive pay, a signing bonus, an increase in employer contributions to the Supplemental Retirement Plan (which will now apply retroactively), as well as increases to pay differentials and the way they are applied. Additionally, the new agreement addresses members’ concerns over sick leave, personal days, vacation accrual, and an alternative work week schedule.

 

“The results of today's ratification vote shows confidence in the leadership of District Lodge 19 and Local Lodge 498. I am proud of our members for taking a stand and bringing these negotiations to mediation,” said General Chairman Andrew Sandberg. “Along with the other unions that entered mediation, we achieved a better agreement with terms we could work with. I intend to keep working with all other unions in an effort to produce constant improvements going forward on the METRA properties.”

 

The bargaining committee included General Chairman Andrew Sandberg, LL 498 President Shaun O’Conner and Local Chairman Dave May. Retired Machinist and former DL 19 Executive Board Member Jose Garza also served on the committee prior to his retirement. “I am proud of our membership, which almost overwhelmingly, voted in this agreement. Our members are also thankful to District Lodge 19 and its new leadership for including us in the negotiating process for the first time ever. We are ready to start working on the next round of bargaining which opens in 2018,” said committee member and LL 498 President Shaun O’Conner.

 

“I am proud of our members on METRA for staying the course and ratifying the contract they wanted,” said P/DGC Jeff Doerr. “I want to thank the negotiating committee and LL 498 for their commitment to the process as well as their hard work on behalf of the membership.”

 

Presidential Emergency Board 249 has selected the Coalition Unions’ final offer in its entirety as the “most reasonable” in its January 11, 2016 recommendation to settle negotiations on New Jersey Transit.


The three member neutral panel was appointed by President Obama because of their experience and expertise. In their 34 page Report, the PEB reviewed in depth the findings of PEB 248, which the Union Coalition submitted as its final offer, and found the rationale of the first Board to be compelling. In contrast, NJT’s final offer differed little from the concessionary proposal it made to PEB 248. In rejecting NJT’s position, the Board wrote that, “We find that the Carrier's push to link the wages, benefits and working conditions of its employees to those of State employees is not moving the parties toward a voluntary agreement.”


The Board accepted the Coalition’s argument that the most relevant comparators were the recent settlements reached by rail workers at other commuter railroads in the region. The Coalition pointed out that New Jersey Transit had never before pointed to state worker contracts as being relevant for commuter rail workers – and that had they done so, NJT commuter workers would have enjoyed far higher wages over the past thirty years. The Board found that “PEBs have not accorded significant weight to state employee agreements because …the skills, qualifications and working conditions are simply not comparable.”


The recommendations call for wage increases totaling 17% over a six year term; health insurance contributions that will rise to 2.5% of straight time pay by January 1, 2017; modest increases in employee copays for in-network doctor visits and emergency room visits; mandatory mail order for prescription drugs; 20 minute Conductor certification pay; and a five year phase-in of Carrier 401(a) contributions for new hires. NJT’s proposal to eliminate employee passes was rejected.


Coalition leaders have reached out to NJT to return to the bargaining table to reach an agreement based on the two Presidential Emergency Boards’ recommendations. If no agreement is reached, a strike or lockout can begin at 12:01 am on March 13.


Coalition leaders called on NJT to end the impasse that has dragged on for almost five years, saying the PEB’s recommendations, “represent a fair and affordable compromise that recognize the skills and dedication of NJT’s highly trained workforce.”

 

Earlier this year, CSX had approached the IAM, as well as other crafts, regarding the recent declines in coal freight across the system.  The Carrier was seeking a system-wide agreement patterned after the one that saved Huntington, WV.  When meeting with the Carrier, they agreed that they would not furlough any Machinists as long as the IAM was making meaningful progress in negotiations.

After nearly 6 months of negotiations, the Carrier had indicated that they could not wait any longer to begin closing shops and subsequently, closed shops in Erwin, TN and Corbin, KY.  Shortly thereafter, District Lodge 19 reached a tentative agreement with CSX.  This agreement did not include everything that we wanted, however, it was the best offer that the Carrier would put forth.  District Lodge 19 also worked with CSX to put every Local Chairman at the bargaining table with the Carrier so the tentative agreement could be improved further based on the needs of the membership.  The Local Chairmen were successful in getting additional improvements on the agreement.  It was critical for the Carrier to hear concerns directly from the membership.

District Lodge 19 felt that it was important to give our CSX members a choice regarding their future and submitted the tentative agreement to our members for a ratification vote.

The results are in and the membership voted to reject the company’s offer.  With that being said, through negotiating with the company for most of 2015, we were able to keep our members employed throughout the process.  While we are uncertain what the Carrier’s next move will be, we will continue working to protect our members on CSX and keep an open dialogue with the Carrier in the interests of keeping our members working.

 

On Wednesday, December 9th, District Lodge 19 reached a tentative agreement with METRA Commuter Rail in Chicago, IL. "I am proud to report that the Local 498 bargaining committee and I were able to make a tentative agreement on METRA this week. We brought the Carrier to mediation for the first time since its inception and we made the changes that I believe our members will accept during the upcoming ratification process,” said General Chairman Andrew Sandberg.

This six-year tentative agreement provides for substantial wage increases with retroactive pay, a signing bonus, an increase in employer contributions to the Supplemental Retirement Plan (which will now apply retroactively), as well as increases to pay differentials and the way they are applied. Additionally, this agreement addresses members’ concerns over sick leave, personal days, vacation accrual, and an alternative work week schedule.

The tentative agreement marks the conclusion of nearly three years of negotiations. The bargaining committee includes General Chairman Andrew Sandberg, LL 498 President Shaun O’Conner and Local Chairman Dave May. Retired Machinist and former DL 19 Executive Board Member Jose Garza also served on the committee prior to his retirement. “After three tough years of negotiating, I am proud of the effort of our bargaining committee in reaching a tentative agreement with METRA,” said O’Conner.

When asked about his involvement in the collective bargaining process, Local Chairman Dave May said, “After three years of negotiating, I take pride in being part of this team. It was an excellent learning experience. I believe it will make us that much stronger and a more united brotherhood for our next negotiations. I would also like to thank retired Brother Jose Garza for all of his involvement in these negotiations.”

The group worked diligently to provide the best agreement possible for the Machinists of METRA and therefore, recommend its ratification.

 

With the reported closure of Union Pacific Railroad’s Burnham Yard in Denver, CO, District 19 went to work negotiating an agreement to protect our affected members.  The agreement was negotiated by General Chairmen Derrick Battle and Jim Davis, with Assistant to the P/DGC Rich Nadeau leading negotiations.

This agreement ensures all Machinists on the Denver roster are protected.  The agreement also ensures that members affected by Union Pacific’s transfer of work are compensated in regard to any expenses incurred as a result of relocating to North Platte, NE or Little Rock, AR.  A voluntary separation allowance is provided in the event that employees choose to end their employment with Union Pacific as well as provisions to compensate and protect employees who are retiring next year and choose not to relocate.

“This shop closure is unfortunate for our members.  The overall attitude of the Machinists is upbeat and positive despite the circumstances,” said General Chairman Derrick Battle.  “I would like to thank each member of LL 1338 for showing professionalism and confidence in District 19 to negotiate the best agreement possible.  This is truly a testament to the members of this lodge.”

Overall, this agreement provides solid protection for the Machinists of Burnham Yard.  District 19 worked hard to get the best language in order to ensure the greatest level of protection for our members.

 

In the recent weeks, many railroad Machinists have been affected by shop closures and/or furloughs. This started with the closure of CSX shops in Erwin, TN and Corbin, KY. As of yesterday, we received notice that Union Pacific’s Burnham Shop in Denver, CO is going to close as well. The railroads are citing a decline in volume of coal freight (an 80% decline in some cases) as the driving force behind these decisions.

We are currently working with our members on CSX to make sure that they are educated with regard to their Railroad Retirement Unemployment Benefits and benefits under the Employee Protection Agreement (EPA) as well as any other benefits that may be available to them. If you are a CSX employee who has been affected by these closures and have any questions regarding your benefits or how to apply, please contact your General Chairman.

Union Pacific has stated that the work performed in the Burnham shop will be transferred elsewhere on the system. This transfer of work will invoke certain labor protective provisions, therefore, General Chairmen representing Machinists on Union Pacific will be meeting with the carrier next week to start the process of negotiating a transfer of work agreement. We intend to keep our affected members updated as things progress.

District Lodge 19 remains committed to helping our members who are affected by these job losses. We intend to keep an open dialogue with the carriers in the interest of getting our members back to work.  

 

Today, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order creating a second Presidential Emergency Board to help resolve an ongoing dispute between New Jersey Transit and the NJT Rail Labor Coalition.

In the 60 days following its establishment, the Presidential Emergency Board will obtain final offers for settlement of the dispute from each side, and then produce a report to the President that selects the offer that the Board finds to be the most reasonable.  The Board’s report is not binding, but the party whose offer is not selected would be prohibited by law from receiving certain benefits if a work stoppage subsequently occurs.

President Obama also announced that he intends to appoint the following members to Presidential Emergency Board No. 249:

  • Joshua Javitz – Chair, Presidential Emergency Board No. 249
  • Elizabeth Neumeier – Member, Presidential Emergency Board No. 249
  • Nancy E. Peace – Member, Presidential Emergency Board No. 249

President Obama said, “I appreciate that these dedicated individuals have agreed to devote their talent and years of experience working on labor-management disputes to help reach a swift and smooth resolution of this issue.”

Joshua Javits, Appointee for Chair, Presidential Emergency Board No. 249

Joshua Javits is the founder of Dispute Resolution Services and has been a mediator and arbitrator since 1985.  Mr. Javits served on Presidential Emergency Boards in 2007,  2011, and 2014.  From 2007 to 2011, he served as Grievance Committee Chairman of the International Monetary Fund, and Partner at Ford & Harrison LLP from 1993 to 2001.  In 1988, Mr. Javits was appointed to be a member and Chairman of the National Mediation Board, where he served until 1993.  He also worked as a labor-management arbitrator from 1985 to 1988, an associate attorney at Mulholland & Hickey from 1983 to 1985, and a trial attorney for the National Labor Relations Board from 1978 to 1983.  Mr. Javits served as an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Center from 1990 to 2002.  He is on the rosters of the American Arbitration Association, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, and the National Mediation Board.  He is a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators. Mr. Javits received a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center.

Elizabeth Neumeier, Appointee for Member, Presidential Emergency Board No. 249

Elizabeth Neumeier has been a self-employed arbitrator since 1983.  In 1994, Ms. Neumeier served as a member on Presidential Emergency Board No. 225 and currently serves as a member of the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board.  From 1980 to 1982, she was Attorney-Advisor in the Office of Chief Counsel at the Federal Labor Relations Authority.  Ms. Neumeier served as Counsel for the Association of Flight Attendants, AFL-CIO from 1975 to 1979.  She is on the rosters of the National Mediation Board and the American Arbitration Association and is a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators. Ms. Neumeier received a B.A. from New York University and a J.D. from Boston University School of Law.

Nancy E. Peace, Appointee for Member, Presidential Emergency Board No. 249

Nancy E. Peace has been an arbitrator, mediator, and consultant since 1993.  From 2012 to 2014, Ms. Peace served as the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Education Partnership.  From 1999 to 2010, she was a part-time instructor at various colleges, first at Emerson College from 1993 to 1996 and then at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1999 to 2010.  From 1983 to 1993, she served as a mediator and arbitrator for the Massachusetts Board of Conciliation and Arbitration.  Prior to this role, she was an associate professor at Simmons College from 1977 to 1983. She received a B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan University, an M.A. from University of Michigan, and a D.L.S. from Columbia University.

 

 

On Tuesday, November 3, District Lodge 19 and our coalition partners met with the mediators from the National Mediation Board (NMB).

Both the coalition and the National Carrier’s Conference Committee (NCCC) presented their positions to the NMB.  We are now scheduled to meet again in December.  District Lodge 19 will continue to update you as more information becomes available.

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