• Will the potential strike next month by BLET have any impact on Commuter Rail?

  • Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.
Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

Moderators: CRail, sery2831

  by BandA
BLET is potentially taking a strike vote in July. This is aimed at Class I freight railroads including CSX and Portland Engine Terminal (!!). But will it affect the MBTA (or Amtrak in New England?) Such as segments hosted/owned/dispatched by Amtrak, CSX/PAR or Mass Coastal? I know there was a brief problem in the 1990s.
  by RandallW
Class I railroads have a common negotiated contract with most unions (so all unions get the same contract with all railroads). Contracts are expired and negotiations have been ongoing for (I think) 3 years. The STB tried mediation, but ultimately decided not to attempt to bind the parties to that, so now the unions have the option to strike.
  by west point
Under the Railway Labor Act (RLA) contracts do not expire. If a new contract is not signed for 10 years the present ocontract remains in force. Contracts have a date that they can become amendable.. Either side can go to the other to propose a change at anytime but other side can just say no. Then any proposal becomes worthless. That is until the amendable date then "negoiation" is required. After amend date if either party does not meet with other on any issue that is bargaining in bad faith.

So on and so on. It can get complicated fast.
  by west point
Now let us look at side letters. RRs have many side letters. Some may apply to only one T&E base other might apply to a whole section like clerks that cover many divisions or the whole RR.
Contracts are usually written for a whole company. The provisions are etched in stone until the amend date. However the contracts for all class 1s (?) have expired.

One of the worse issues are seniority lists especially meergers. Super seniority can be crazy. Delta air I know had 4 or 5 seniority lists from previous airlines that had different merger provisions. Time, openings, trasfers, upgrades, etc. to advance.

We know that some RRs have offered bonus to T&E crew to transfer to other crew bases. If the contract had not expired NS could not offered the bonus until a side letter was signed by both p parties. However if a side letter or contract allowed such bonuses the no further negoition or letter would have been necessary. Since contract had passed amend date NS could offer it without further ado. If union wanted to cover the bonus they could ask for a side letter that would either have an expire date or become permanent.both before or after amend date. However NS could refuse so it cold immediately stop bonus.

Any action after expire date is called self help. Take the BNSF attendance policy. If the policy was in the contract then BNSF could not change it unless union agreeded. However since contract had met amend date they could implement any policy unless original contract had a no change written in body of contract or a side letter. The union tried self help by calling a strike but BNSF got a friendly judge to injunction it. Judge did not fully understand right of union to self help or did not care. Now it also depends on it being major or minor issue. Forget how that determined. Probably a judge decision.

How each airline is handling the pilot shortage is unknown. Part is whether any airline is in or out amend date. If inside contract then a side letter required based on how any language is written maybe so yes maybe no. Outside amend date airline can do what it wants butof course has right to strike that would quickly be put down by some company friendly judge.

Some items are written into contracts or side letter(s) that allow for provisions to go beyond amend date. Usually they are written to provide for some base. Best example would be pay not below certain amount, lay over facilities, certain miimum layover facilites, etc.

Our biggest fights were getting what was agreeded to into contract language. Been a week fight over one paragraph. Lawrers I hate them. We even had lawers excluded from writing that was argued over.

So is the RLA easy? Absolutely no!!! I have probably missed any revisions to RLA or have memory loss of what was stated above.
  by eolesen
Nah, you can dismiss any rhetoric about BLET attempting to strike.

Anyone familiar with the RLA knows a walkout will result in an Presidential Emergency Board being declared one minute after the strike deadline, which invalidates the strike.

West Point, it's not about finding a "company friendly judge"... It's about adhering and following the RLA. Minor disputes don't allow strikes or walkouts as self-help. Period. High-Viz didn't violate the contract or change how much time off employees were entitled to use. It was aimed at curbing sick time abuse, and wouldn't you know it, planned vacation time use started to rise after the policy went into effect...

Don't like it? Push to abolish the RLA and put everyone under Taft-Hartley. That would force a bunch of ripple effects that the unions would regret (e.g. no more closed shop), which is why it will never happen.

There's no way that Sec Buttigieg and the STB can survive publicly shaming railroads to file service plans and issuing emergency orders to UP over the transportation of specific commodities one week, and the next week be siding with unions as they walk out causing a national transportation shutdown....

The unions know this. The railroads know this.

  by BandA
Sometime on an early 90s evening I stepped onto a Framingham Local at BOS. It went one stop to BBY and we were told by the conductor to get out as CSX or Conrail dispatchers were honoring some strike. No announcements at South Station or communication from the conductors that the train would only go one stop. I was pissed, it really screwed up my commute. Only affected one or a few days though.

At the time, Amtrak was running Commuter Rail, and dispatching the NEC and South Station to BBY on the Framingham Line. I believe Amtrak workers are federal employees and cannot strike or join in secondary boycotts. But Keolis is a private, unionized company. If a national strike is called, they would be pressured to honor any picket lines. Maybe there won't be picket lines in the Boston area due to lack of freight operations, but the MBTA and PAR/CSX have a combined dispatch center. And [OT] but the Amtrak Downeaster runs over track dispatched by PAR/CSX, the Boston section of the Amtrak Lake Shore Ltd. runs over CSX dispatched track west of SPG

I believe secondary boycotts are allowed in the heavily regulated railroad industry, (transportation in general?), but prohibited in most other industries.

I think it unlikely to affect MBTA CR, but it is possible and has happened before.
  by CRail
Amtrak and Commuter Rail employees are represented by the same unions.

There are no "combined dispatching centers."