District Lodge 19

where it all begin

P/DGC John Lacey

The Corner Office

  • President John Lacey

Message from President Directing General Chairman John Lacey: July 10, 2018 on National Freight Agreement Negotiations

Sisters and Brothers:

National Freight Negotiations:

Brothers and Sisters,

RE: National Agreement

Today I held a meeting with the Local Chairman via face to face meeting and via telephone conference. At this meeting; I announced that I have decided it is in the best interest of our members under the National Agreement to present our National Agreement Negotiation dispute to an Arbitration board for Adjudication. This decision was an extremely difficult decision to make.

We are in a position with the National Agreement that in my 40+ years on the railroad and 14+ years on District Lodge 19 staff that we have never been in before. We have been alone in this endeavor before. In 2005 the Carrier proposed a monthly employee cost sharing for Health Care. All the other Unions in one way or another accepted this agreement. The IAM held out disputing the employee cost sharing provision. At which time, we were in Mediation and had petitioned the Mediator to release us. However, the National Mediation Board refused to act upon our request. We filed a law suit in Federal Court to force the National Mediation Board to act on our petition. The Federal Court Judge ruled against us and we were forced to remain in mediation. As you know, we did reach a Tentative Agreement in 2005 while being held in mediation and it was ratified by the membership. It was with this Agreement that we started paying the employee monthly healthcare cost sharing as the other unions were already doing.

We have met with the Carriers several times since the present Tentative Agreement was rejected by the membership. But the Carriers have refused to move from their position on this Agreement. They did however, add to their proposal. The Carrier has now proposed a “Healthcare True Up” of $74.23 per employee per month, which we rejected. They are already collecting this true up from other Unions. The longer this dispute goes on the more it may cost you.

At our last negotiation session in June, we requested release from the National Mediation Board. The NMB Board Members made it clear to us they would sit on our request and not act upon it for an undetermined amount of time. In my Railroad Career the National Mediation Board has never released us from Mediation, even when there was a Labor majority on the board.

I have seriously considered all our options. I seriously considered putting the agreement out for another vote. However, if I put the Agreement out for another vote it would be without any improvements and would be with the “Healthcare True Up” of $73.24 per month. Putting a second Tentative Agreement out for another vote without any improvements that will cost our members more is not a valuable option to resolve this dispute.
Without the NMB acting upon our request for release we would never be able to reach a Presidential Emergency Board. Also, historically PEBs have recommended “pattern bargain agreements” and I have no reason to believe that a PEB would deviate from this even if we could get to a PEB.

After careful and serious considerations, and with the advice and guidance from our GVP’s office, District 19 Staff and Legal Counsel, I realize we have come to the end. Therefore, our only and best option is to use the arbitration statue within the Rail Labor Act to settle this dispute. We have hired the law firm of Guerrieri, Bartos & Roma, P.C. to arbitrate our side of the dispute. The Guerrieri, Bartos & Roma Law Firm has dedicated their practice to Unions. In my opinion, without question, they are the best Union-Labor Attorneys in the country. Their record is second to none. I truly believe that if anyone can win this case at Arbitration the Guerrieri Law Firm can.

We must have a voice in the 2020 round of bargaining. Our Section Six Notice to amend the Agreement for the 2020 Agreement is due in the later part of 2019. We cannot move forward and serve our Section Six Notice nor be a part of any Bargaining or Bargaining Coalition until we have resolved our present dispute.

I appreciate all the Local Chairman who took time from their families to attend this meeting. I also appreciate the Local Chairman who attended this meeting via phone conference. To all the members under the National Agreement I thank you for your patience, support and solidarity during this difficult process. Please watch the website for updates as this arbitration process progresses.

I wish you a safe and happy summer.

I will be in touch again

In Solidarity, and Fraternally yours,

John E. Lacey
President Directing General Chairman