After nearly five years of bargaining, Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) 249, formed in November, 2015 to resolve the contract dispute between the Rail Labor Coalition (Coalition) and New Jersey’s mammoth commuter carrier, New Jersey Transit (NJT), sided with unionized workers in recommending the main points of the Coalition’s proposal, including retroactive wage payments and an 18 percent increase in pay, compounded, over a six-year period.
In addition to recommending the wage increases, the PEB soundly rejected the NJT’s proposal of a 10 percent increase in health care premiums, and recommended an increase of 2.5 percent, which is closely aligned with the Coalition’s proposed 2.0 percent premium increase.
The three-member, neutral panel was chosen by President Obama, based on their experience and expertise. PEB 249 is the second on the property and was appointed after NJT rejected the recommendations of PEB 248. In the report that PEB 249 released on Tuesday, January 12, they presented a detailed review of PEB 248’s conclusions, which was the final offer submitted by the Coalition.
The PEB found most main points of the Coalition’s proposal to be more convincing, rational and reasonable than the NJT position.
The Rail Labor Coalition is comprised of more than 15 international unions and more than 4,300 unionized transit rail members, including more than 1,200 SMART Transportation Division union members.
John Previsich, President of SMART Transportation Division, said that the report, “sends the message that our collective voice is heard.”
“The recommendation by PEB 249 is a victory for members of the Rail Labor Coalition, and for union members everywhere. We will continue to fight for fair wages, safe work environments and quality, affordable healthcare for all of our Brothers and Sisters.”
Previsich also stated that the report follows the pattern of settlements that have occurred on similar properties and is a fair and equitable resolution of the issues.
“It’s time for New Jersey Transit to accept the recommendations of PEB 249, which are in line with every other commuter railroad settlement in the area.
“Members of Rail Labor Coalition are skilled, highly trained and experienced workers. We’re hoping that NJT will do right by their workers and the community by moving beyond this lengthy dispute and accept the PEB’s report,” Previsich added.
If an agreement is not reached, any participant may invoke self-help as early as March 13, 2016, leaving 295,000 commuters without the public transportation they depend on.
To read the full report of PEB 249, click here.
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