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Railroad industry.

President Bush established three emergency boards recently to recommend settlements of three major railroad disputes. The boards, which operate under provisions of the Railway Labor Act, cover bargaining disputes between the Nation's major freight rail carriers and the International Association of Machinists; the Consolidated Rail Corp. (Conrail) and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees; and the National Railroad Passenger Corp. (Amtrak) and several unions.

Before the President established the emergency boards, the National Mediation Board--the Federal agency responsible for administering the Railway Labor Act--declared that the parties in each dispute had reached an impasse, and the mediation panel offered to arbitrate a settlement. A 30-day "cooling-off" period began after the parties declined arbitration. After the 30 days elapsed, the carriers would have been permitted to lock out the employees and make unilateral changes in the collective bargaining agreements, and the unions would have been free to strike. The National Mediation Board instead certified that the disputes threatened "to deprive... section(s) of the country of essential transportation services," clearing the way for the President to establish the emergency boards.

Unlike the other major rail unions, the Machinists did not participate in the most recent round of coordinated national bargaining, which concluded only after the President appointed an emergency board (No. 219) and Congress enacted ad-hoc legislation that ended a 1 -day work stoppage in April 1991. (See Monthly Labar Review, January 1992, pp. 22-23 .) The legislation imposed the recommendations of the emergency board on the 10 other unions involved with these same freight rail carriers. Aretrak also was not involved in the negotiations, and Conrail participated, but not for all crafts or classes.

In a related development, Conrail and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers agreed to binding arbitration to resolve differences in their nearly 4year-old contract dispute involving about 2,500 locomotive engineers. Among the major issues to be arbitrated are wage increases, personal days off to compensate employees for holiday work, and establishing special allowances for engineers working on trains with reduced crews. Health and welfare issues were resolved last year when the national rail settlement concluded, following the recommendations of Presidential Emergency Board No. 219..

Before the union's acceptance of arbitration, the National Mediation Board declared that it had exhausted all efforts to resolve the dispute and initiated a 30-day cooling-offperiod after the union declined the Board's arbitration offer. The union declined arbitration because it did not have time to poll its local leaden, according to an official of the union's bargaining committee. Later, with the certain establishrnent of a presidential emergency board, union leaders accepted arbitration.
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Title Annotation:Developments in Industrial Relations
Author:Cimini, Michael H.; Behrmann, Susan L.
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Jun 1, 1992
Words:430
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