Saturday, December 28, 2013


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.


Chaz said...

The City;s attempt to use the State's contract is going to be rejected by our arbitrators as well. To compare the City in 2014 to the State's 2011 recession plagued situation is "apples and oranges.

We must ensure that the UFT does not agree to bonuses instead of retroactive pay.

UrbanEd said...

I'm confused about one point: the CSEA deal is 4% over five years, yet the Newsday quote you provided said the MTA settlement was 2.83% over six years. How is that better?

James Eterno said...

2.8% average per year comes to over 15% total, even including paying for healthcare.

Chaz-CSEA will have nothing to do with UFT arbitration which only covers the last round of collective bargaining (4%+4% round). It is the next round where no city union has a contract that concerns me. What do we do if a weak union sets a city pattern like CSEA (0+0+0+2+2)for the next round to get some job security clause? Unions need to be united to oppose it. Let the PBA go first?

Chaz said...


I understand that but believe me the City probably brought it up as their justification that there was(is) a recession and why they refused to give us the two 4% raises.

Unitymustgo! said...

Inevitable truth of our universe, Unity suxs and we will get bonuses for most of it with maybe a real raise for year 4 and 5. Big maybe. I've said it before our union is only in it for the money and perks. Their lack of action at all levels to help with real teaching conditions and school based issues is absolute truth and says all you need to know. Our union loves it's perks and is very happy to see senior teachers leave the system. Teacher dues are the same whether you are in your first year or your 20th. And I'd guess that for every ten $80,000 plus teachers that leave 13 or more newbies are hired. That's a financial win for the union! And g-d help us if we agree to bonuses for any of our retroactive pay, once the city get's a taste of such a deal, they will forever push for it.

James Eterno said...

Pattern bargaining trumps with arbitrators. If they ignore precedents, there is no need for them. City always cries poverty. It is part of the DNA. I agree issue is retro vs cash bonus.Next round then will not be easy.