IAM District 19 recently ratified two new agreements with Metro North and Long Island Rail Road. The new contracts are the result of the lobbying efforts of the IAM, several other transportation unions and members from around the country.
Because of this lobbying, the IAM has retained all the positions at Metro North and Long Island Rail Roads and now have ratified two contracts that brings IAM members current on wages and back pay. The MTA, the parent agency of both of these commuter railroads, received $14 billion to use for operations and maintenance through these lobbying efforts.
“This is great news for our members working for these commuter rail carriers,” said Chief of Staff to the International President Richard Johnsen. “Our Legislative Department, staff and members have continued to fight for increased funding during these difficult times and it is great to see it come full circle in the form of a contract for our members. This is great for the workers and great for the riders who depend on them to keep these commuter trains moving.”
“Our members have worked tirelessly during the pandemic, and I’m proud to say their union has worked tirelessly for them,” said District 19 President J. Michael Perry. “They deserve to get some good news in the form of a contract. This is the very reason we lobby our representatives, so our members don’t get left behind.”
“I am proud to report this good outcome at a time when most of what we hear is bad news,” said District 19 Directing General Chairman and Assistant to the President Andrew Sandberg. “This is only one way our members have benefited from our involvement in politics. When asked why we involve this union in politics, this is the reason; to help our members get the dignity and respect they deserve at work.”
“We worked harder through the pandemic due to increased safety measures and the fact that at times, some members and fellow workers were sick or quarantined,” said IAM Local 226 President Gabriel Debraz Jr. “Now that it seems we are recovering, we’re happy to know that we will be getting the back pay and raises we deserve while going right into the negotiations.”
“NY was hit hard with Covid-19,” said IAM Local 753 Vice President T.J. Donohue. “We weren’t sure what to expect. Most of our workforce was working from home in the worst part of it, not the IAM. We came to work every day. We kept the railroad running so that other essential workers could get to work like doctors and nurses, Firemen and EMS along with Police in New York City and the surrounding area. We seem to have reached the end of it now. We’re happy that our Union was working for us and the MTA in Congress getting us the money we need to operate and keep our jobs. Included in that funding was a contract with back pay, thank you IAM.”
“Coming out of the worst time in all of our careers, a time all MTA agencies are experiencing at least a 75 percent loss in ridership, we thought it would be business as usual and they would keep the money received in federal bailouts while we experience furloughs,” said Local 754 President David Negus. “We’re happy to see that this contract was brought to us, not just by our essential work throughout the height of the pandemic but also from the IAM’s political work on Capitol Hill.”
In May 2020, the IAM and other transportation unions sent a letter to congressional leaders calling for increased public transportation funding in future relief packages.
“It has become clear that this ongoing crisis is much more costly than previously anticipated, and that public transportation will need another significant infusion to remain operational for the foreseeable future,” the letter states. “Fifteen of the largest public transit agencies in the country recently sent you a letter projecting deficits as high as $8.9 billion due to lost farebox receipts, decreased tax revenue, and increased costs associated with the pandemic.”
This scenario reflects the unprecedented conditions brought upon by the global pandemic. Both carrier’s finances were decimated while IAM members continued to work and made the necessary changes to keep riders, management and themselves safe.
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