PEB likely on Boston commuter rail

January 31, 2011

BOSTON — A coalition of Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad (MBCR) unions, including those representing clerks, carmen, supervisors, signalmen and shopcraft workers, have been released by the National Mediation Board (NMB) from mediation.

The release paves the way for appointment of a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) to make settlement recommendations for a wage, benefits and work-rules contract settlement under provisions of the Railway Labor Act.

The coalition unions rejected an NMB offer of binding arbitration.

The UTU and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen are negotiating separately with the MBCR and are not included in the release. BLET members previously failed to ratify a tentative agreement, and the BLET and MBCR returned to the bargaining table.

Under special commuter railroad provisions of the RLA, a second PEB is possible if the sides cannot accept the recommendations of the first PEB. Self-help is not permitted until 30 days after a second PEB (should it be appointed) has made its recommendations.

(Note that Amtrak and freight railroads are governed by another provision of the RLA that provides for just a single PEB.)