Thanks to Mike Shirtzer from MORE for sending out a Newsday piece that includes the full non binding arbitration award for most Long Island Railroad union workers. Not only did the Presidential Emergency Board recommend decent salary increases for LIRR workers, it specifically rejected the 2011 state settlement with the Civil Service Employees Association, that included three years with no salary increases, as a pattern to be adhered to.
Instead, they looked to the arbitration and prior settlement of TWU Local 100 (New York City Transit Workers Union) as major precedents. The favorable TWU arbitration was decided one collective bargaining round after the 2005 transit strike. The MTA went to court to try to block the arbitration award from being implemented and lost all the way up to the NYS Court of Appeals.
If you don't think strikes and/or a credible threat that a union can wage a successful one are important, think again. The ripple effects of the 2005 transit strike, thought of as a defeat for the union by many, are still helping to improve conditions for transit workers throughout the region and probably boosted other settlements as well.
Newsday summarized the terms of the non binding LIRR settlement this way:
The presidential board recommended annual raises for workers averaging 2.83 percent over six years, and increased health care contributions for all workers. It did not call for any changes in LIRR pension plans or to any work rules.
This certainly beats the daylights out of the 0%+0%+0%+2%+2% settlement negotiated by the CSEA with Governor Andrew Cuomo that Mayor Bloomberg wants all city workers to swallow.
The non binding LIRR arbitration is not yet a contract and it will have no impact on the UFT's non-binding arbitration, which covers our last round of collective bargaining with the city. Most city workers received 4%+4% increases without givebacks in the last round. The city is saying they can't afford to give the UFT those retroactive raises and they are attempting to get all city workers to accept three years without raises (the contract state workers agreed to) for the next round.
Will the LIRR decision have an impact on the next round of collective bargaining with city workers?
The LIRR arbitration panel, in rejecting the MTA argument that the CSEA settlement should be used as a pattern, noted that CSEA workers were facing a huge staff reduction crisis and received a job security agreement in return for three years without a raise. The panel pointed out that a threat to jobs was not a comparable condition with the LIRR. It isn't with the UFT either as teachers are heading for the exits as fast as they can because of the impossible teaching and learning conditions in the schools.
If we are going to consider anything close to the state pattern for our next contract, there had better be huge take-backs on working conditions such as the slaying the evaluation system and putting in preferred placement for Absent Teacher Reserves. How about following the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit settlement and actually lowering class sizes? Maybe we should fight for the ability to grieve unfair/inaccurate material placed in our personnel files, including observations, in a prompt way to somebody neutral.