WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 -- President Bill Clinton today announced that he has established, effective Aug. 21, 1997, Presidential Emergency Board No. 234, to investigate and make recommendations for settlement of the current disputes between Amtrak, and its employees represented by the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes.
The President, by Executive Order, established the PEB on the notification of the National Mediation Board. Under the Railway Labor Act, Presidential action is appropriate where a labor dispute threatens "substantially to interrupt interstate commerce to a degree that would deprive a section of the country of essential transportation service."
A strike on Amtrak would have an adverse effect on the traveling public and would severely hamper freight rail shipments, particularly along the Northeast Corridor. Over 500,000 commuters and inter city rail passengers would be affected by a shut down of Amtrak.
Commuters in New York City, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and other cities could experience reduced commuter service. Additionally, Conrail's freight service along the Northeast Corridor would be affected by a strike on Amtrak.
Consequently, the President invoked the PEB procedures of the Railway Labor Act, which provides that the PEB will report its findings and recommendations for settlement to the President.
President Clinton appointed Arnold M. Zack of Boston as chairman of the PEB. Richard I Bloch of Washington, D.C. and Roberta Golick of Sudbury, Mass., were appointed as the other two members. All are independent arbitrators and are members of the National Academy of Arbitrators.
"TEXT of EXECUTIVE ORDER
"Establishing an emergency board to investigate disputes between Amtrak and its employees represented by the Brotherhood of maintenance of Way Employes
"Disputes exist between Amtrak and its employees represented by the Brotherhood of maintenance of Way Employes.
"These disputes have not heretofore been adjusted under the provisions of the Railway Labor Act, as amended (45 U.S.C. 151 et seq.) (the "Act").
"In the judgment of the National Mediation Board, these disputes threaten substantially to interrupt interstate commerce to a degree that would deprive a section of the country an essential transportation service.
"NOW, THEREFORE, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States; including section 10 of the Act (45 U.S.C. 160), it is hereby ordered as follows:
"Section 1. Establishment of Emergency Board ("Board"). There is established, effective August 21, 1997, a Board of three members to be appointed by the President to investigate these disputes. No member shall be pecuniarily or otherwise interested in any organization of railroad employees or any railroad carrier. The Board shall perform its functions subject to the availability of funds.
"Sec. 2. Report. The Board shall report to the President with respect to these disputes within 30 days of its creation.
"Sec. 3. Maintaining Conditions. As provided by section 10 of the Act, from the date of the creation of the Board and for 30 days after the Board has submitted its report to the President, no change in the conditions out of which the disputes arose shall be made by the parties to the controversy, except by agreement of the parties.
"Sec. 4. Records Maintenance. The records and files of the Board are records of the Office of the President and upon the Board's termination shall be maintained in the physical custody of the National Mediation Board.
"Sec. 5. Expiration. The Board shall terminate upon the submission of the report provided for in sections 2 and 3 of this order.