Bargaining Update From NJ Transit Unions: Release Requested From National Mediation Board
By letter dated March 20, SMART General President Joseph Nigro has requested that the National Mediation Board (NMB) proffer arbitration to SMART Mechanical Workers on New Jersey Transit.
The request was done in concert with other unions in the New Jersey Transit Rail Labor Coalition. The Coalition represents 88% of the overall union membership on New Jersey Transit and was formed over the past several months. A decision by the NMB is expected in about a month.
If the National Mediation Board proffers arbitration, which SMART and the other coalition unions will reject, a Presidential Emergency Board will then be appointed. “This coalition has one goal, a fair contract for our Transportation and Mechanical Brothers and Sisters at New Jersey Transit”, said SMART’s Railroad, Mechanical and Engineering General Chairman John McCloskey. He added that “negotiations were at a complete standstill, this request for release is a necessary one.”
If the National Mediation Board agrees to release the coalition unions, it will proffer binding arbitration to the unions and NJT. When either side notifies the NMB that they reject binding arbitration, that starts a process that could take as long as 270 days if no voluntary agreement is reached, including two Presidential Emergency Boards (PEBs). The first PEB would be appointed within 30 days of either side’s rejection of the proffer of arbitration. At the end of the 270 days, both sides can resort to self-help. The Coalition elected to seek release after it became clear that NJT would not make a reasonable offer. The Coalition has proposed a settlement patterned after the contracts achieved at the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North in New York. New Jersey Transit insists on concessionary contracts, with employees with families paying more than four times what they pay now for health benefits.