Biden names emergency board to mitigate railroad disputes

Biden rail

US President Joe Biden has appointed members for a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) to help resolve ongoing disputes between freight rail carriers and unions.

The action, signed through an Executive Order, triggers a “cooling-off” period to help parties reach a negotiated settlement.

The order was signed on 15 July, effective 18 July.

Ira F. Jaffe will chair the PEB. Jaffe has been involved in labour and employment arbitration cases for more than four decades and chaired or served on five other emergency boards.

Boston College Professor David Twomey – who served on prior boards that helped resolve major rail and airline disputes – and Barbara C. Deinhardt – who served as chair to the New York State Employment Relations Board and New York State Workers’ Compensation Board – will also join the board.

“The PEB will provide a structure for workers and management to resolve their disagreements,” reads the official statement from the White House.

“The Board will investigate the dispute and, within 30 days of its establishment, deliver a report recommending how the dispute should be resolved.”

Biden has chosen to intervene in railroad labour talks covering some 115,000 workers’ new contracts following an urgent call from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The President said the goal is to make keep America’s freight rail system running without disruption.

Averting a nationwide railroad strike is key as this threatens to have devastating effects on the US supply chain, said Chamber’s President Suzanne Clark.

Negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) are still underway.

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