National Mediation Board

jonathan flanders jon_flanders at
Tue Mar 13 22:07:30 MST 2001

>> deregulation only applies to the bosses. <<

Back in 1992 the machinists struck CSX, the railroad I currently work for.
This was an attempt to keep the confrontation with the railroads below the
radar of a "national emergency." The railroad carriers responded by a
nationwide lockout of all rail workers.

They claimed that the "seamless" nature of the railroad system made
functioning without CSX impossible. Of course now a "national emergency"
existed, Congress intervened on the second day of the lockout, and Bush
pere ordered us back to work.

In Selkirk, we attempted to challenge the lockout by walking onto Conrail
property at an access road. One of our number was promptly arrested.

Carriers under the Railroad Labor Act have the best of both worlds. Labor
is bound hand and foot, while the bosses merrily buy and sell properties
almost at will. No wonder trucking firms like UPS and Federal Express are
anxious to extend its provisions to their industry.

One other point. It is a little known fact that the railroad shop workers
voted 99% for continued government ownership of the railroads after WW1. Of
course this was not done, and once the roads were given back to private
hands, the bosses provoked a long, bloody shop strike in 1922-23. At this
time, railroad shops were the third largest industry in the country. The
strike was defeated, largely due to lack of support from the engineers and
the train crew unions.

The Railroad Labor Act of 1926 was a direct result of this great post-war
labor confrontation.

Jon Flanders

and updating the current situation.........

WASHINGTON -- The three members appointed to the Presidential Emergency
to help resolve the Northwest Airlines contract dispute are well-known,
experienced arbitrators, a wire service reports.

The three-member panel -- headed by Helen Witt of Pittsburgh and including
Richard Kasher of Bryn Mawr, Pa. and Robert Harris of Washington -- was
formally convened at 12:01 a.m. EDT/on Monday to help resolve the dispute
between the nation's fourth-largest carrier and Aircraft Mechanics
Association (AMFA), which has 10,000 members.

The federal government has stepped into numerous railroad disputes, but the

Bush-ordered emergency board would only be the second formal White House
intervention in a major airline contract dispute in 35 years.

Former President Clinton intervened in 1997.

The board has flexibility on how it will conduct its investigation,
to officials close to the situation. It could hold hearings, or go about
work less formally.

"They have a lot of play in how they work it out," one federal mediation
official said.
The board will recommend a settlement to the president within 30 days after

being activated on March 12, the day the mechanics union had threatened to

The two sides have another 30 days to consider the proposal. There can be
work stoppage during the 60-day period.

Witt has served on prior presidential emergency boards, most recently in
dispute between the Allied Pilots Association and American Airlines in
The airline and the union settled a month after Clinton intervened moments
into a strike.

Bush stepped in before the Northwest mechanics union strike deadline, thus
averting a walkout.

Witt is a former chairman and member of the National Mediation Board (NMB),

and serves as the permanent arbitrator on nine panels serving the private
public sector.
Harris has been a member and chairman of prior presidential emergency
[most notably PEB 219 which devastated BMWE members]. He is a former
and member of the NMB, and is considered a dispute resolution expert.

Kasher has served as chairman or a member of nine prior presidential
emergency boards [including PEB 219]. He is a permanent arbitrator for more

than a dozen employers, industries and unions. He was a former general
counsel of the NMB.


More information about the Marxism mailing list