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Strike Averted! New Jersey Transit Unions Reach Tentative Agreement

Thirty hours before rail workers would have begun a strike that would have paralyzed commuting between New York and New Jersey, transit agency and rail unions reached a deal, though it must still be ratified by workers.
March 13, 2016, 7am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"The deal came just over a day before workers could have started the strike," writes Emma G. Fitzsimmons of The New York Times. "A contingency mass transit plan would (have accommodated) only 38 percent of the transportation agency’s 105,000 daily rail commuters into New York City, leaving the rest to fend for themselves on already overcrowded roads," notes Friday's post on the looming strike.

"Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Republican, said he was pleased with the deal," writes Fitzsimmons. "He said the labor contract would last through the end of 2019, giving workers and commuters some stability."

Mr. Christie said that the agreement would not prompt a fare increase — something the agency had warned was a possibility — but that modest fare increases were likely to happen periodically in the future.

Fares were last increased by nine percent on October 1 after a vote in July by the NJ Transit board.

[Christie] said that he was confident the workers would ratify the agreement, and that he had agreed not to provide further details about the deal until the unions discussed it with their members.

Mr. Christie said that he was never too concerned a strike would be called and that negotiations often came down to the last minute.

“People generally don’t settle until they have to,” he said. “We’re about 30 hours or so from ‘have to.’ So we got it done.”

In July 2014, a strike with another commuter railroad in the metro region, the Long Island Rail Road, was averted only after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, joined the bargaining talks.

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Published on Friday, March 11, 2016 in The New York Times
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