Announcement of the Establishment of Three Emergency Boards To Investigate Railroad Labor Disputes

October 1, 1982

The President announced today that he has established, effective October 1, 1982, three Emergency Boards (Nos. 196, 197, and 198) to investigate disputes between rail labor unions and local commuter authorities operating in the Northeastern United States, and to recommend settlements for new collective bargaining agreements.

Establishment of the Emergency Boards was authorized by the Northeast Rail Service Act of 1981, passed by Congress last summer at the administration's request. Commuter rail service in the metropolitan New York/New Jersey and Philadelphia areas, currently operated by Conrail, will be transferred to local commuter authorities by January 1, 1983, in preparation for the Federal Government's planned sale of Conrail's freight operations to the private sector.

Separate Emergency Boards are being established to investigate the disputes between the commuter authorities and more than a dozen rail labor unions in the following service areas:

-- New York/Connecticut -- for Conrail's Harlem and Hudson lines, which are being transferred to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), and the New Haven line, which will be operated jointly by MTA and the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT);

-- New Jersey -- for Conrail's commuter lines in the northern part of the State, which are being transferred to New Jersey Transit Rail Operations (NJTRO), a new subsidiary of the State transit authority;

-- Pennsylvania/Delaware -- for Conrail's Penn Central and Reading lines, which are being transferred to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), including service sponsored by the Delaware Transportation Authority (DTA).

Collective bargaining between the unions and the commuter authorities has been underway since midsummer on a variety of issues, including wages and work rules. Although the 1981 act required appointment of the Emergency Boards by early October, the parties have indicated that they will continue to negotiate as the Boards begin their fact-finding proceedings. Each Board is required to hold public hearings on the disputes in its service area and issue a report within 30 days. If the parties are still unable to reach agreement, they will then submit final offers to the Board, which will recommend the ``most reasonable'' offer as the settlement.

Note: The White House press release included a fact sheet on Conrail and the provisions of the Northeast Rail Service Act of 1981.