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Rail News: Labor

Judge bars NJ Transit engineers from future strikes

Locomotive engineers called out en masse June 18-19 in protest of not receiving Juneteenth as a paid holiday.
Photo – NJ Transit Facebook


New Jersey Transit locomotive engineers are temporarily barred from creating any future strikes after 481 of them called out of work over the weekend.

Locomotive engineers called out at "unusually high numbers" June 18-19, causing hundreds of trains to be canceled, reported, which covers northern New Jersey. An emergency order was issued yesterday by U.S. District Judge Christine O'Hearn ahead of a hearing scheduled for tomorrow in Camden.

The engineers are members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. While employees are prohibited from instigating any work stoppages, those who continue to miss work without a legitimate reason could face discipline, fines or jail time.

The work stoppage occurred because the engineers were not receiving holiday pay for Juneteenth yesterday, according to an email from BLET General Chairman James Brown sent June 13. The email encouraged union members to observe the holiday. On June 17, NJ Transit filed a complaint in federal court after discovering the plans to call out, reported. The mass call-out aimed to put pressure on the transit agency during collective-bargaining negotiations.

On June 17, 205 engineers did not show up to work, while another 143 called out on June 18 and 133 on June 19.

NJ Transit's contracts with all 15 transportation unions expired Dec. 31, 2019. All unions, except for BLET, have agreed to new collective bargaining agreements, which allowed employees to observe Juneteenth as a paid holiday. Juneteenth became a federal holiday last year.

NJ Transit and BLET have engaged in mediation since 2020, but the union requested a release in March 2022, which has not yet been approved by the National Mediation Board.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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