|ONLINE VERSION||SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2000|
|TTD Convention Demands BMWE Release From Mediation|
|The third regular convention of the AFL-CIO
Transportation Trades Department was held in Washington, DC on July 20
and 21, 2000. Meeting under the theme "A Bold Voice" the
convention delegates passed a number of significant policy resolutions
which will be reported on in the next BMWE JOURNAL.
Most significant to the BMWE was the convention's demand for the National Mediation Board to release the BMWE from mediation immediately. This resolution was an extension of Resolution No. 2 - Strengthening a Worker's Voice on the Job - which stated in part:
"A unique but serious problem faced by unionized transportation workers covered by the Railway Labor Act is the process of negotiation and mediation managed by the National Mediation Board (NMB), which oversees labor-management relations in the rail and airline industries. The same corporate interests pushing to weaken or silence unions use their political influence in Washington to frustrate negotiations and delay the mediation process, making it extremely difficult to reach the best collective bargaining agreements. Typically, the NMB refuses to 'release' unions and employers to exercise their legal rights once negotiations reach a state of impasse, forcing the parties to fruitlessly negotiate, which objectively aids the companies and harms the employees.
"The problems with current law and its interpretation can be especially acute in the rail industry where the process can often take many months if not years to conclude, allowing large railroad corporations to pocket enormous sums of money every day while rail workers are denied a pay raise. The most recent example of this problem involves what has now been six months of fruitless bargaining between the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (BMWE) and the major railroads who seek unacceptable concessions from the employees including massive increases in contracting out.
"Transportation labor agrees that mediation will no longer serve a legitimate purpose and, therefore, strongly supports the union's request to the NMB to terminate mediation and make a proffer of arbitration to the parties. This case and many others like it underscore why this manipulation and perversion of federal law and the collective bargaining process can no longer be tolerated. Not only are workers harmed, but our transportation system suffers from unnecessary and protracted disputes."
BMWE Assistant General Counsel Donald Griffin argued in favor of the resolution as did James Hoffa, President of the Teamsters, and Carla Winkler, President of the Machinists local representing flight attendants on Continental Airlines. The resolution passed unanimously.