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BLET formally accepts NMB’s proffer of arbitration at SEPTA

CLEVELAND, May 3 — As a follow up to our May 1 News Flash, the BLET has formally accepted the National Mediation Board’s proffer of arbitration regarding the union’s unresolved contract bargaining dispute at SEPTA.

“The BLET recognizes that binding arbitration is the fastest way to resolve this dispute without interrupting vital transportation services to the citizens in the Philadelphia metropolitan area,” wrote BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce in a letter to NMB Chief of Staff Daniel Rainey. “Accordingly, we unconditionally accept the Board’s proffer.”

According to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer on May 1, a spokesman for SEPTA indicated the carrier would reject the offer.

“It would be irresponsible for either part to reject this proffer,” President Pierce wrote.

The proffer of arbitration is a mandatory step in the RLA bargaining process. If either party to the negotiations declines to accept the proffer, the NMB will then notify the parties that its mediatory efforts have failed and will release them from mediation. Release of the parties from mediation would trigger a 30-day cooling off period, after which the parties will legally be entitled to exercise self-help.

It is possible that the NMB would notify President Obama that the dispute threatens substantially to interrupt interstate commerce to a degree such as to deprive that section of the country of essential transportation services, and that President Obama will create a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) to investigate the dispute and issue a report and recommendations for settlement pursuant to Section 9a of the RLA.

The BLET has been bargaining for a new contract for approximately 220 locomotive engineers at SEPTA since July of 2009. The dispute has been in NMB-sponsored mediation since April of 2010. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) also received a proffer in its bargaining dispute with SEPTA. BLET has been working with the IBEW to achieve fair settlements for the members of both organizations.

The President would be required to create a PEB if requested to do so by SEPTA or the governor of any state where it operates.

Saturday, May 03, 2014
bentley@ble-t.org

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