Washington, D.C. – Today (July 15, 2015), President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order creating a Presidential Emergency Board to investigate and to make recommendations for settlement of the current disputes between the New Jersey Transit Rail and the NJT Rail Labor Coalition.
The Executive Order established the Presidential Emergency Board effective July 16, 2015, and the Emergency Board will report its findings and recommendations for settlement to the President within thirty (30) days of its creation.
President Obama also announced that he intends to appoint the following members to Presidential Emergency Board No. 248:
Elizabeth C. Wesman – Chair, Presidential Emergency Board No. 248
Barbara Deinhardt – Member, Presidential Emergency Board No. 248
Ann Kenis – Member, Presidential Emergency Board No. 248
President Obama said, “The transit rail system is vital to our nation’s economy, and it’s crucial that we ensure it runs smoothly. That’s why I’m grateful these talented individuals have agreed to serve the American people by helping to swiftly and appropriately resolve these labor-management disputes.”
SMART Transportation Division Vice President Doyle Turner reports that the PEB will begin Monday, July 27 and will most likely go through Friday, July 31. Although the BLET, also part of the NJT Rail Labor Coalition, has sent out a strike vote that has been approved by their members, SMART Transportation Division has taken no such action and will only do so if necessary after the PEB gives its ruling.
Dr. Elizabeth C. Wesman, Appointee for Chair, Presidential Emergency Board No. 248
Dr. Elizabeth C. Wesman has been a full-time labor and employment arbitrator since 2000 and has practiced arbitration and mediation since 1981. She has arbitrated disputes in a wide array of industries, including railroad, aerospace, police and fire departments, and public and private universities. Dr. Wesman was Associate Professor of Strategy and Human Resources/Industrial Relations at the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University from 1981 to 2000. She was also an Adjunct Professor at the Rochester, New York, Extension Division of Cornell University from 1990 to 2000. She was a lecturer in the Department of Human Resource Studies at the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University from 1980 to 1981 and an Instructor in the Department of Economics at Le Moyne College from 1970 to 1975. Dr. Wesman is a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators. She is on the arbitration rosters of the American Arbitration Association, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, and the National Mediation Board. Dr. Wesman has been on a number of permanent panels, including the New York State/Public Employees Federation Panel, the Oregon Employment Relations Board, and the Washington State Public Employment Relations Commission. She is the immediate past-President of the National Association of Railroad Referees. Dr. Wesman received an A.B. from Smith College, an M.A. from Northwestern University, and a Ph.D. from the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University.
Barbara Deinhardt, Appointee for Member, Presidential Emergency Board No. 248
Barbara Deinhardt has been a full-time labor and employment arbitrator and mediator since 1995. She served as Chair of the New York State Employment Relations Board from 2007 to 2009 and as Member and Chair of the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board from 1991 to 1995. Ms. Deinhardt was the Deputy Commissioner for Legal Affairs and General Counsel to the New York State Department of Labor from 1986 to 1991. From 1984 to 1986, she was General Counsel to the Workers’ Compensation Board, and she was a Partner at Kestell, Pogue & Deinhardt from 1980 to 1984. She was a trial attorney with the National Labor Relations Board in Boston from 1976 to 1980. Ms. Deinhardt served as a member of the Foreign Service Grievance Board from 1999 to 2005. She is a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators, the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, the National Advisory Board of the Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law, the Labor and Employment Relations Association, and the New York State Bar Association. Ms. Deinhardt received a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law.
Ann Kenis, Appointee for Member, Presidential Emergency Board No. 248
Ann Kenis has been a professional arbitrator for the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and American Arbitration Association since 1992 and a hearing officer for the Illinois State Board of Education since 1994. She has arbitrated hundreds of disputes in a wide array of industries, including the railroad, manufacturing, automotive, education, transportation, postal service, public sector, service industries, trucking and transportation. From 1984 to 1991, she was an associate attorney for Arbitrator Elliott H. Goldstein. Ms. Kenis began her career as an attorney representing clients in matters of employment and education at Kerr & Longwell from 1981 to 1984. She has been on the arbitration roster of the National Mediation Board for 20 years. Ms. Kenis has been appointed to permanent panels for the State of Illinois Department of Central Management Services and its various unions, the Chicago Transit Authority and ATU Locals 241 and 308, and Caterpillar and the United Auto Workers. She is a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators and has served as Secretary/Treasurer of the National Association of Railroad Referees. Ms. Kenis received a B.S. from University of Illinois, an M.A. from Northwestern University, and a J.D. from Loyola University.
NJ Transit’s former railroad chief, who was pushed out in March following two tumultuous years that included the flooding of nearly 400 rail cars and locomotives during Superstorm Sandy, has landed a job within New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Kevin O’Connor, the former vice-president of rail at NJ Transit, started April 10 as Metro-North Railroad’s new chief transportation officer, according to Aaron Donovan, spokesman for Metro-North, a division of the MTA that provides rail service in suburban New York and Connecticut.
New Jersey Transit is planning to conduct a sweeping safety review of its rail operations.
The agency has hired an outside consultant and is forming a 17-member committee that will be made up of employees at all levels to take a hard look at maintenance procedures, work practices, equipment and its “overall safety culture,” NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder said.
Conductors assaulted on trains. Employee facilities that are filthy and infested with rodents. A culture where “an on-time train is better than a safe train.”
An New Jersey Transit union official said Tuesday (April 8) there is no culture of safety at the statewide transportation agency.
“We just go about our work every day and we’re not told anything — nobody ever talks to us about safety,” Michael J. Reilly, general chairman with the United Transportation Union, said during the monthly NJ Transit board meeting in Newark.
The shakeup of NJ Transit’s upper management is becoming a clean sweep.
In the same week that Jim Weinstein’s four-year tenure as NJ Transit’s executive director officially ended, his directors of rail and bus operations, Kevin O’Connor and Joyce Gallagher, are being forced out, said sources close to the agency.
Just like that, the top boss at NJ Transit and the top officials in the rail and bus divisions of the statewide transportation agency are gone or going.
A New Jersey Transit conductor has been arrested and charged with official misconduct, theft and conspiracy, according to news reports, following a seven-month investigation into missing ticket money.
The alleged crime is said to have occurred on NJT’s North Jersey Coast Line between New York City and Bay Head, N.J.
Conductor Robert Broschart was arrested along with a non-NJT employee – Phillip Swanger – on charges brought by the Monmouth County prosecutor and NJT. They are charged with defrauding NJT of thousands of dollars in ticket money over a one-year period. Broschart faces up to 20 years in prison, according to news reports.