|A government panel appointed by the Obama administration agrees that union’s final offer should be adopted by New Jersey Transit.|
After more than five years of bargaining, a second Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) this week selected the final offer from IAM-TCU and a coalition of unions as the “most reasonable” to settle negotiations at New Jersey Transit.
The three member neutral panel of PEB 249, appointed by President Obama, reviewed the findings of PEB 248, which the Coalition submitted as its final offer, and found the rationale of the first Board to be compelling. In contrast, NJT’s final offer differed little from the concessionary proposal it made to PEB 248.
“We find that the Carrier’s push to link the wages, benefits and working conditions of its employees to those of state employees is not moving the parties toward a voluntary agreement,” the Board wrote.
“Coalition members deserve a fair deal,” said IAM Transportation General Vice President Sito Pantoja. “Now it’s up to New Jersey Transit to do the right thing based upon the recommendations of not one, but two PEB’s.”
PEB 249 accepted the Coalition’s argument that the most relevant comparators were the recent settlements reached by rail workers at other commuter railroads in the region. The neutral panel pointed out that NJT never before compared state worker contracts to commuter rail workers’ contracts. Had they done so, NJT commuter workers would have enjoyed far higher wages over the past 30 years.
The recommendations call for wage increases totaling 17 percent over a six-year term; health insurance contributions that will rise to 2.5 percent of straight time pay by January 1, 2017; modest increases in employee copays for in-network doctor visits and emergency room visits; mandatory mail order for prescription drugs; 20 minute Conductor certification pay; and a five-year phase-in of Carrier 401(a) contributions for new hires. NJT’s proposal to eliminate employee passes was rejected.
Coalition leaders have reached out to NJT to return to the bargaining table to reach an agreement based on PEB 248 and 249’s recommendations. If no agreement is reached, a strike or lockout can begin at 12:01 a.m. on March 13, 2016.
IAM-TCU is part of a multi-union bargaining coalition at New Jersey Transit.