In a contract dispute that has been ongoing since 2010, rail workers have threatened to go on strike as early as next month after a refusal by the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) to implement wage increases recommended by a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB).
After direct contract negotiations with the railroad failed, several unions representing LIRR members participated in mediation sessions with the National Mediation Board (NMB) over the past couple years. When mediation also failed, the NMB released the parties in November 2013. Pursuant to provisions of the Railway Labor Act, the LIRR requested a Presidential Emergency Board. (45 U.S.C. Section 159a(c)(1) allows either party to request that the President create an emergency board to investigate and report on a dispute that is not resolved through other provisions of the Act.) On December 21, 2013, PEB No. 244 issued its recommendations, which included a series of modest wage increases totaling 18.4 percent over six years and an employee contribution to health care costs. These provisions were based on comparable agreements with other commuter railroads.
As of the date of this post, the LIRR has rejected these proposals. The unions have indicated an intention to go on strike as early as March 21st.