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5/5/2014



Rail News: Labor

Unions move toward arbitration in SEPTA contract disputes


The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) has formally accepted the National Mediation Board's (NMB) proffer of arbitration regarding the union's unresolved contract dispute with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA).

The union issued the statement on Saturday after a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer quoted a SEPTA spokesman indicating that the agency would not accept binding arbitration, according to a BLET press release.

"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 Pierce in a letter to NMB Chief of Staff Daniel Rainey.

The proffer of arbitration is a mandatory step in the Railway Labor Act bargaining process. If either party 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, BLET officials said.

The BLET, which represents about 220 locomotive engineers at SEPTA, has been seeking a new contract since July 2009. The dispute entered NMB-sponsored mediation in April 2010.

Meanwhile, the NMB last week ended its efforts to broker an agreement between SEPTA and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 744, which represents about 200 electricians who work on SEPTA's rail cars. The electricians would accept arbitration, but SEPTA will not, said IBEW General Chairman Arthur Davidson in a Friday news story posted on philly.com.



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