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Transit Labor Standoff in New Jersey Came Down to Retiree Pay

Friday, March 18, 2016   (0 Comments)
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Jobs& 03/14/2016

Transportation advocates and elected officials began to celebrate after provisions were made for recent retirees to receive retroactive pay increases as the settlement of a prolonged contract dispute between NJ Transit and unions representing 4,200 of the railroad's employees. The unions had threatened to strike after five years of working without a contract, but on Friday night, the two sides reached a tentative deal to avoid a shutdown of the commuter rail lines between North Jersey and New York City. "There's no way I would have even tried to get to work on Monday. It would have been a zoo," Ron Simmons, a Hamilton Township resident who works for a financial firm in New York City, said Saturday while waiting for a train on the Trenton transit center. "I didn't think a strike would happen, but in this day and age, you can't be 100 percent sure of anything. I'm just glad they found common ground." They also were thrilled to hear Gov. Chris Christie say that they won't have to worry about fare hikes for a while to cover the cost of the settlement. The terms of the settlement have not been officially disclosed, pending ratification by members of 11 rail unions. But The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that the deal gives workers wage increases of about 21 percent over eight and a half years. In return, the newspaper said, the unions agreed to a health plan that the rail carrier wanted, which would nearly double the cost of coverage to some members and introduce deductibles for medical treatment for the first time. Christie said the contract agreement is for longer than what the board had recommended.

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