February 14, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Trenton, NJ – The five-year contract dispute between NJ Transit management and its unions could culminate in either a strike or a lockout March 13. “Prepare yourself economically,” the 11-union New Jersey Transit Rail Coalition told its 4,200 members in a newsletter Feb. 5. “At 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, March 13, every union on New Jersey Transit will strike if no agreement is reached.
” The two sides are far apart on both pay—the unions want an 18.4% raise over six and a half years; NJ Transit has offered 10.9% over seven years, both retroactive to 2011—and health benefits. The unions say NJ Transit wants to increase workers’ insurance payments to an average of $460 a month, and more if premiums go up. “Half our membership would actually lose money the day we sign the agreement,” said Stephen Burkert, general chairman of United Transportation Union Local 60. Two Presidential Emergency Boards have ruled that the unions’ offers were more reasonable, but the federal government does not have the power to impose a settlement until a strike or a lockout takes place. Read more