The parties reconvened in Chicago this week for another session of bargaining under the direction and supervision of the National Mediation Board.
On Monday, prior to meeting with the company, representatives from TeamCare gave the committee a presentation on what the fund has to offer in regards to health and welfare benefits. There was initial interest, but the committee still requires further information on the various plans offered by TeamCare and associated costs.
On Tuesday morning the company made a proposal in the form of three different bundled economic packages. The committee worked all day on counters to the packages. Late Tuesday evening the negotiating committee made counter proposals on the three packages. The IBT committee’s counter was not well received and was met with anger and hostility by the company.
On Wednesday morning the NMB Mediator Gerry McGuckin informed the IBT committee that he was disappointed with the counter received on Tuesday night. He informed the group that he sent the company negotiators home. In addition, he told the committee that he was “unwilling to waste the taxpayers’ money,” since it appeared to him that the committee wasn’t at all serious about reaching an agreement, and that future negotiation dates were in jeopardy. The committee vented its frustration to the mediator and voiced their strong view that the company wasn’t serious about reaching a fair agreement from the beginning of what has become a long drawn-out negotiation. After listening to the committee, the mediator suggested that if they would put together a counter proposal; clearing out the remaining non-economic items he would consider reinstating future mediation dates. The committee then began the process of crafting that counter.
Late on Thursday, after two full days of internal deliberations, the committee delivered its non-economic counter. Mediator McGuckin reviewed the proposal and, while he thanked the committee for its hard work, he determined that given the state of the non-economic proposal; to move forward he would need to see a comprehensive proposal including all items. The committee continued discussions until around midnight and determined that they considered the mediator’s comments and instruction to be unfair. They believed that if they made any further moves at this point, they would be negotiating against themselves and would do a disservice to the membership. The committee therefore decided that it would not put a new comprehensive proposal together and that they would wait for the company to make the next move. The committee asked the IBT leadership to ask the mediator to advise them in writing exactly what his expectations are concerning his request that they put a new comprehensive proposal together. The committee also asked that the IBT leadership ask the mediator to assist in obtaining information that it has been waiting for from the company for many months.
At this time the IBT leadership is working on the committee’s requests. As a result there are no scheduled dates through the end of the year. If that changes it will be reported in the Dispatch.