NMB Releases Unions on New Jersey Transit, Unions Say PEB is Next

The National Mediation Board (NMB) yesterday released every commuter union on New Jersey Transit (NJT) from mediated talks.??The unions—including the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM)—working together in the New Jersey Transit Rail Labor Coalition, immediately announced their intention to invoke a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB), which will make non-binding recommendations to settle the four year contract dispute.

The Coalition includes every rail union on NJT, representing more than 4,000 commuter workers.

“By announcing our intention to invoke a PEB, we want to remove any fears the riding public may have that a strike could occur in July,” said the Coalition in a joint statement. “Our goal is to reach a voluntary agreement. We are optimistic that a neutral PEB will find reasonable our proposals to follow the pattern settlements reached on New York commuter railroads. There is simply no justification for the workers we represent to fall further behind their counterparts on Long Island and Metro-North railroads.”

Under Section 9a of the Railway Labor Act, commuter rail unions can invoke a PEB. Section 9a is a special section of the RLA that applies only to commuter rail.For passenger and freight rails and airlines, only the NMB can recommend that the President create a PEB.

Negotiations for new contracts opened on July 1, 2011. NMB efforts at mediation failed to produce agreements, prompting today’s releases.

Under the Railway Labor Act, a strike would be possible at 12:01 AM, July 16, 2015, unless one of the involved Governors, the commuter rail agency or unions request the President to appoint an Emergency Board. Once appointed, the PEB will have thirty days to hold hearings and issue non-binding recommendations to settle the dispute. Creation of the PEB starts a 120 day cooling off period during which neither side can resort to self-help.