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July 09, 2015

NJ Transit engineers unanimously vote to strike, but hope for resolution

Transportation New Jersey Transit
NJ Transit Mel Evans/AP

Commuters board a New Jersey Transit train early Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, at the Trenton train station in Trenton, N.J.

Members of the union representing NJ Transit train engineers voted unanimously Wednesday to strike over a longtime contract dispute, NJ.com reports.

Union members want the federal government to create a panel to settle the dispute before the strike, or a lockout, could commence on July 16.

Among those who completed the 400 ballots sent to the membership last month, a vote in favor of a strike was unanimous.

"The 100 percent majority voting in favor of a strike sends a strong, unified message to New Jersey Transit that over four years without a contract is not acceptable to our membership," Dennis Pierce, national president of the Cleveland-based union, said in a statement.

Last month, contract negotiations between the 17 unions representing NJ Transit railroad workers and the agency broke down when the National Mediation Board ended the process. The railway unions have been in negotiations since 2011, while unions representing police and bus workers have been in talks since 2010. None of the 9,500 unionized NJ Transit workers have a contract, although only railroad workers would strike.

One union official told NJ.com Wednesday that members would prefer not to walk off the job.

"Let me be clear on this: the unions are not looking to strike," David Decker, chairman of the general committee of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, told NJ.com. "We're looking to have an amicable agreement. This is just an action to comply with the bylaws should all other avenues break down."

Union officials said they would postpone a strike for the immediate future if the Obama administration forms a Presidential Emergency Board.

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