After more than three difficult years of negotiating with Amtrak, a contract is imminent. The Passenger Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition (PRLBC) won a major victory last fall when Amtrak was compelled to agree to binding arbitration. The arbitration agreement required a certain time line for presentation by each party and then a final and binding decision by the three neutrals. Arbitration proceedings have ended, and now the parties wait for the neutrals’ final decision.
The Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) and its coalition partner, The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (BMWED), joined together to form the Passenger Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition. Between the two Unions, almost all of Amtrak’s engineering department employees negotiated together as one bargaining unit.
Amtrak and the PRLBC began discussing the possibility of a binding arbitration Agreement last July, and the parties signed the Agreement in September. The dispute was supposed to be resolved and a contract in place by January 1, 2014, however, scheduling issues of the three neutrals delayed the proceedings until January 6, 2014. Although the PRLBC was adamantly opposed to the delay, it was ordered over their objections. Despite the delay, a decision should be rendered soon.
The three neutrals that will render a final decision are Chairman Ira Jaffe, Board Member Herbert Fishgold and Board Member Shyan Das. Their decision will be final and binding, and not subject to appeal or membership ratification The position of the PRLBC has been that Amtrak employees are entitled to the National Freight Agreement, which has been a pattern for settlement for nearly four decades. Contrary to their own past practice, Amtrak has argued for a version of the settlements they have reached with other unions during the past two years.
Those representing BRS Amtrak employees within the PRLBC include:
BRS President Dan Pickett, BRS Vice President — Commuter, Passenger, Transit/Political Director Dennis Boston, BRS General Chairman Dave Ingersoll
BMWED President Freddie Simpson, Pennsylvania Federation General Chairman Jed Dodd, Consolidated System Federation General Chairman T. J. Nemeth, Northeastern System Federation General Chairman Dale Bogart, Unified System Division General Chairman Louis Below, Illinois Central Gulf Federation General Chairman Hayward Granier, Allied Federation General Chairman Dennis Albers.