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Rail News: Labor

NJ Transit reaches agreement with rail unions, averts strike


A coalition of labor unions representing New Jersey Transit rail workers has reached a tentative contract agreement with NJ Transit, averting a strike that would have shut down the agency's commuter rail system.

If the transit agency and its rail unions hadn't reached a deal, workers could have initiated a strike yesterday, which marked the end of the so-called "cooling-off" period after a Presidential Emergency Board in January selected the unions' offer as the most reasonable.

The new agreement with 13 labor unions will be subject to a full membership vote to be held within the coming weeks, according to a press release issued by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), which is part of the labor coalition.

Had the strike occurred, it would have been the first work stoppage at NJ Transit in 33 years, IAM officials said. The strike also would have had repercussions for freight-rail service. Norfolk Southern Railway, for example, late last week issued an alert warning of service delays or cancellations because it wouldn't have had access to certain parts of track.

"A strike was always the last option for New Jersey Transit workers, who have waited almost five years for a fair contract," said IAM Transportation General Vice President Sito Pantoja.

Details of the pact will be posted on IAM's website as they become available.

On March 11, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced that the deal had been reached but said he wouldn't disclose the contract's terms until the unions explained them to workers, reported.