Pallone Joins NJ Delegation to Send Bipartisan Letter Urging NJ Transit to Settle Labor Dispute & Avoid Strike

Feb 17, 2016 Issues: Labor, New Jersey

LONG BRANCH, NJ— Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) joined the New Jersey House delegation in sending a letter requesting that New Jersey Transit resolve the ongoing impasse with the rail workers contract. The letter asks NJ Transit to address the matter as quickly as possible in order to avoid any service disruption that would adversely affect New Jersey commuters.  The bipartisan letter was led by Congressmen Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-9) and Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ-2).

The full text of the letter can be here and below:

 

February 17, 2016

 

Mr. Dennis Martin
Executive Director
New Jersey Transit
1 Penn Plaza East
Newark NJ 07105

 

Dear Mr. Martin:

We are writing with respect to the state of contract negotiations with the coalition of labor unions representing rail labor at New Jersey Transit (NJT) and ask that you resolve this dispute as quickly as possible to avoid unnecessary service disruption.

New Jersey Transit provides for almost 300,000 daily rail passenger trips. Whether riders are going to work, to the doctor, or to the grocery store, the service provided by NJT is a vital access point for thousands in the regional economy. If service disruption occurs, the people and the economy of New Jersey would be dealt a major blow. Commuters into New York or Hoboken or Paterson or Atlantic City could find themselves stranded, at least temporarily. And those without access to other means of transportation would surely suffer the most.

NJT should seriously consider the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) 249 proposal, authored by a neutral panel of independent arbitrators appointed by the President, as a path forward. Congress set up a process to avoid a service disruption scenario by legislating additional collective bargaining procedures specifically for commuter railroads. These procedures – collectively known as Section 9a - go above and beyond the traditional processes outlined in the Railway Labor Act. Section 9a provides for an additional PEB round to ensure a fair and reasonable offer, while also imposing stiff penalties on the party that does not agree.

We are sympathetic to the financial situation of NJT, especially as our state continues to recover from Superstorm Sandy. However, after reviewing the PEB reports, we believe two of the major financial hurdles NJT has cited – the imposition of an excise tax on health insurance premiums, and the uncertainty of federal funding – have been addressed with Congress’ recent passage of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and the omnibus spending bill. 

The full service stoppage of our nation’s third-largest commuter rail system is looming. Five years have passed without a contract. Neutral arbitrators have provided a settlement proposal. A labor strike or lockout by management are both avoidable. We strongly urge NJT to resolve this dispute before such disruptions can occur.

Sincerely,

Signatories of this letter were Representatives Bill Pascrell Jr. (NJ-9), Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2), Donald Norcross (NJ-1), Tom MacArthur (NJ-3), Chris Smith (NJ-4), Frank Pallone Jr. (NJ-6), Albio Sires (NJ-8), Donald Payne Jr. (NJ- 10), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12).