May 27, 2014
By Beth Borzone
On May 20, 2014, Emergency Board No. 245 reported to President Obama that the Unions’ final contract proposal was more reasonable than the one proposed by the LIRR. President Obama created Emergency Board No. 245 with an executive order in March and mandated it to investigate the dispute and select the most reasonable offer between the final contract proposals by the Long Island Railroad and its employee’s Unions.
Dean DeVita, Secretary-Treasurer, of the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers/Service Employees International Union (NCFO), one of the unions participating in negotiations, said he was thrilled for the LIRR Employeeswith the Emergency Board’s recommendation.
“If they (LIRR- MTA) refuse to comply with the Board’s findings, they are going to have to negotiate through a bull horn, because we are prepared to strike,” DeVita said.
Emergency Board No. 245 is actually the second Emergency Board created to investigate the dispute and give a recommendation. It was created in March at the request of the LIRR, after the LIRR refused to accept the first Emergency Board’s recommendations (PEB No. 244). The recommendations from Emergency Board No. 244 were discussed at length at a public hearing in January conducted by the National Mediation Board. The union agreed to accept the recommendations, but the LIRR did not and instead requested the President to create a second Emergency Board (PEB No. 245).
The purpose of the second Emergency Board was to decide whose final proposal was more reasonable. The Union’s final proposal largely reflected the recommendations of the PEB No. 244. The LIRR’s final proposal resembled an agreement that MTA reached with the Transport Workers Union Local 100 in April and approved by its membership on May 19th, the day before the PEB No. 245 report was issued. There are significant differences between the two proposals.
The MTA-TWA agreement is a five-year agreement providing wage increases of 8%, an extended wage progression delaying normal increases to new employees, and increased employee healthcare contributions from 1.5% to 2%.
The Emergency Board 244 recommendations that the Unions accepted were for wage increases totaling 17% over six years (2.83% per year) and health care insurance contributions from employees totaling between 1% beginning in 2010 and rising to 2.25% in 2015 (an average monthly contribution of $152.02 by 2015). LIRR employees currently do not contribute into their healthcare insurance. Under PEB 244’s recommendations, employee’s contributions would cover approximately 10% of the total premium contribution in the 2014-2016 period.
“The NCFO and our coalition partners first proved the three zero’s that the MTA originally demanded was not reasonable; now we proved that the MTA latest “last and final offer” also is unreasonable,” John Thacker, NCFO President said, “It’s time they sat down with us, sign on to the recommendations of PEB No. 245 and provide the long-overdue fair wage increases our members deserve.”
LIRR workers have not had a raise in four years.
The coalition of unions negotiating the contract with the LIRR are Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, Independent Railway Supervisors Association International, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, National Conference of Firemen and Oilers/Service Employees International Union, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Transportation Communications International Union, and International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers.