Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

No Headway Made in Efforts to Avert Rail Workers Strike

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

No Headway Made in Efforts to Avert Rail Workers Strike

Article excerpt

Negotiations between NJ Transit and its rail unions continued Monday concerning a new contract that may boost workers' salaries and stave off a crippling train strike, but ended with a report of no progress made.

After five years of sometimes heated talks, both sides face a deadline of 12:01 a.m. Sunday, when federal law allows either the unions to strike or NJ Transit to lock workers off its properties.

Leaders of both the agency and the unions have said repeatedly that they hope to avoid a train shutdown, which would cost Wall Street banks and other New York employers $6 million an hour in lost productivity, according to Partnership for New York City, a business group.

"NJ Transit came to the table today prepared to resolve this issue and made meaningful movement towards the unions' position," NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy J. Snyder said Monday evening. "Regrettably, there was no material movement in the financial offer and absolutely no movement in the area of health benefits by the rail union coalition."

Representatives of the rail unions could not be reached for comment Monday evening.

Meanwhile Governor Christie said Monday that he will go ahead with plans to leave on vacation to an undisclosed location and celebrate his 30th wedding anniversary with his wife, Mary Pat. He will continue to monitor the progress of the transit talks from afar, he said.

"I'm never truly on vacation," Christie said at a news conference in Newark. "So I'm sure I'll be taking calls and giving instruction and direction. That's my job."

Both sides took steps toward compromise Friday in negotiations before the National Mediation Board in Washington, said Steve Burkert, general chairman of United Transportation Union Local 60 and a spokesman for the labor coalition. The talks follow a process laid out by the federal Railway Labor Act of 1926, which calls for times of negotiations and "cooling-off periods" designed to bring the two sides closer and avoid a strike, said Frank N. …

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