NJ.com reported that members of the 17 rail union coalition have authorized a strike against New Jersey Transit. However, SMART TD General Chairperson Steve Burkert said, “We are certainly hopeful that NJ Transit gets back to the negotiating table.” Read the complete story 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.”
The board’s recommendations are non-binding and the parties now have 120 days to reach agreement based on the recommendations.
Summary of PEB 248’s Recommendations
The Board recommended wage increases totaling 18.4 percent in compounded wage increases over 6.5 year or 2.6 percent per year. When increases for health insurance factored in, the recommendations totaled 17.7 percent over the term or 2.5 percent a year.
“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 percent, the same nominal wage rate increase recommended by the Board.”
Although the board recommended an increase in health insurance contributions and an increase in co-payments, the PEB rejected NJT’s proposal for a new inferior insurance plan and their proposal to make employees responsible for 50 percent of excise taxes incurred as a result of the Affordable Care Act.
“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 percent to 2.5 percent, which we do not consider an unwarranted increase.”
The PEB rejected NJT’s proposal to eliminate employee ridership passes. The Board also rejected NJT’s proposal to reduce contributions to new hire 401 (a) contributions and also recommended provisions for conductor certification pay.
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.
Click here to read PEB 248’s report.
Washington, D.C. – Today (July 15, 2015), President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order creating a Presidential Emergency Board to investigate and to make recommendations for settlement of the current disputes between the New Jersey Transit Rail and the NJT Rail Labor Coalition.
The Executive Order established the Presidential Emergency Board effective July 16, 2015, and the Emergency Board will report its findings and recommendations for settlement to the President within thirty (30) days of its creation.
President Obama also announced that he intends to appoint the following members to Presidential Emergency Board No. 248:
- Elizabeth C. Wesman – Chair, Presidential Emergency Board No. 248
- Barbara Deinhardt – Member, Presidential Emergency Board No. 248
- Ann Kenis – Member, Presidential Emergency Board No. 248
President Obama said, “The transit rail system is vital to our nation’s economy, and it’s crucial that we ensure it runs smoothly. 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.”
SMART Transportation Division Vice President Doyle Turner reports that the PEB will begin Monday, July 27 and will most likely go through Friday, July 31. Although the BLET, also part of the NJT Rail Labor Coalition, has sent out a strike vote that has been approved by their members, SMART Transportation Division has taken no such action and will only do so if necessary after the PEB gives its ruling.
Dr. Elizabeth C. Wesman, Appointee for Chair, Presidential Emergency Board No. 248
Dr. Elizabeth C. Wesman has been a full-time labor and employment arbitrator since 2000 and has practiced arbitration and mediation since 1981. She has arbitrated disputes in a wide array of industries, including railroad, aerospace, police and fire departments, and public and private universities. Dr. Wesman was Associate Professor of Strategy and Human Resources/Industrial Relations at the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University from 1981 to 2000. She was also an Adjunct Professor at the Rochester, New York, Extension Division of Cornell University from 1990 to 2000. She was a lecturer in the Department of Human Resource Studies at the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University from 1980 to 1981 and an Instructor in the Department of Economics at Le Moyne College from 1970 to 1975. Dr. Wesman is a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators. She is on the arbitration rosters of the American Arbitration Association, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, and the National Mediation Board. Dr. Wesman has been on a number of permanent panels, including the New York State/Public Employees Federation Panel, the Oregon Employment Relations Board, and the Washington State Public Employment Relations Commission. She is the immediate past-President of the National Association of Railroad Referees. Dr. Wesman received an A.B. from Smith College, an M.A. from Northwestern University, and a Ph.D. from the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University.
Barbara Deinhardt, Appointee for Member, Presidential Emergency Board No. 248
Barbara Deinhardt has been a full-time labor and employment arbitrator and mediator since 1995. She served as Chair of the New York State Employment Relations Board from 2007 to 2009 and as Member and Chair of the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board from 1991 to 1995. Ms. Deinhardt was the Deputy Commissioner for Legal Affairs and General Counsel to the New York State Department of Labor from 1986 to 1991. From 1984 to 1986, she was General Counsel to the Workers’ Compensation Board, and she was a Partner at Kestell, Pogue & Deinhardt from 1980 to 1984. She was a trial attorney with the National Labor Relations Board in Boston from 1976 to 1980. Ms. Deinhardt served as a member of the Foreign Service Grievance Board from 1999 to 2005. She is a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators, the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, the National Advisory Board of the Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law, the Labor and Employment Relations Association, and the New York State Bar Association. Ms. Deinhardt received a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law.
Ann Kenis, Appointee for Member, Presidential Emergency Board No. 248
Ann Kenis has been a professional arbitrator for the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and American Arbitration Association since 1992 and a hearing officer for the Illinois State Board of Education since 1994. She has arbitrated hundreds of disputes in a wide array of industries, including the railroad, manufacturing, automotive, education, transportation, postal service, public sector, service industries, trucking and transportation. From 1984 to 1991, she was an associate attorney for Arbitrator Elliott H. Goldstein. Ms. Kenis began her career as an attorney representing clients in matters of employment and education at Kerr & Longwell from 1981 to 1984. She has been on the arbitration roster of the National Mediation Board for 20 years. Ms. Kenis has been appointed to permanent panels for the State of Illinois Department of Central Management Services and its various unions, the Chicago Transit Authority and ATU Locals 241 and 308, and Caterpillar and the United Auto Workers. She is a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators and has served as Secretary/Treasurer of the National Association of Railroad Referees. Ms. Kenis received a B.S. from University of Illinois, an M.A. from Northwestern University, and a J.D. from Loyola University.