The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen announced Thursday that its members who work for NJ Transit have voted unanimously to grant BLET National President Eddie Hall the authority to call a strike.
To be clear, this does not mean they are going to strike – or that they have even set a strike date. It just means they can. The strike authorization vote is a step necessary under the union’s bylaws to set a strike date and withdraw the members from service.
More so, it means they are tired of the turmoil of the situation, Hall said in a release.
NJT’s locomotive engineers have been seeking a new contract since October 2019. The contract dispute has been in National Mediation Board-sponsored mediation for nearly three years.
And it’s fair to say that NJ Transit’s plans for a new headquarters was noticed.
“NJT’s locomotive engineers have spoken loud and clear,” Hall said. “Our members at NJT are furious that the agency has millions for penthouse views, but not a dime for train crews who kept the trains running throughout the worst days of the pandemic and haven’t had a raise since 2019.”
Results show 81 percent of the eligible 494 union voters cast ballots, with 100 percent of them in support of strike authorization. In total, 399 ballots were returned, 397 were cast for strike authorization. Two ballots were ruled void.
Hall said the union will keep talking.
“And use every lawful tool to reach a contract settlement,” he said.
But, eventually …
“We’re fed up with NJT’s misplaced priorities, deceit and stonewalling,” he said. “NJT’s managers wasted taxpayer dollars by going to court this month in a frivolous and failed attempt to block our vote count and strip us of our rights. They would rather litigate than negotiate. We would prefer to reach a voluntary settlement, but make no mistake, with this vote the clock is now ticking. The process to be granted release from the NMB has begun. As soon as it is lawful for us to act, we will.”