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BLET to hold strike authorization vote at SEPTA

CLEVELAND, May 16 — BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce announced that preparations are underway to poll members to authorize a strike in the event one becomes necessary to attain the Organization’s bargaining goals at SEPTA.

The National Mediation Board released the BLET from mediation with SEPTA and the BLET formally accepted the NMB’s proffer of arbitration on May 3. However, SEPTA officials declined that proffer, triggering a 30-day cooling off period that expires at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on June 14, 2014. At that point self-help is available to the parties. 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. The President is required to appoint a PEB if requested by the Governor of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Delaware, or by SEPTA. The creation of a PEB would postpone any strike or lock out by the parties.

Authorization does not mean a strike will occur.

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.

National President Pierce urged all BLET members to vote in the strike authorization process. “While we anticipate that President Obama will appoint a Presidential Emergency Board, we must be prepared for all eventualities,” he said. “We have taken the position that binding arbitration would have been the fastest way to resolve this dispute without interrupting vital transportation services to the citizens in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, but in this case SEPTA declined to go that route. Now is the time for all BLET members to deliver a unified message to SEPTA.”

Friday, May 16, 2014
bentley@ble-t.org

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