Friday, January 11, 2008

Boston Braces for Possible Amtrak Strike. A strike more likely to happen?

The Boston Globe has a story about the impact to Boston commuters an Amtrak strike would cause. This has nothing to do with the Philly-NYC commuter but the article noted a couple things that were new to me about this strike situation:

Amtrak workers have been working without a new contract for eight years, receiving only cost-of-living pay increases since 2000. An emergency presidential panel created to avert a strike recommended last week that workers receive a 35 percent raise through 2009, plus tens of millions of dollars in additional back pay for the years without increases. The unions were pleased by the report, but Amtrak would probably need help from Congress to pay for the full increases and has asked for a smaller raise.

This implies that Amtrak would need Congress to allocate money for any back pay and that Amtrak wants the raise percentages to be lower. Can these two matters be resolved by the end of the month? Congress giving up a lot of money and unions agreeing to a lower percentage raise don't sound like things that would get resolved fast.

In a statement, the unions said a strike is one of three possibilities, which also include a negotiated settlement and congressional intervention. David White, a spokesman for the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division, said the unions have invited Amtrak back to the negotiating table, using the panel's recommendations as a basis.

Interesting to know what the union defines as the three potential outcomes on January 31st. I didn't know that the union asked to meet again with Amtrak, not sure if another meeting has been set.

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