Engineers Mark Off, Making Riders Wait for Trains, Sometimes for Hours

Friday, June 17 was a difficult day forNJ Transitrail riders, including many forced to wait hours for their train. Worse, NJT cancelled service between 7:30 and 8:00 P.M. on most lines; the only later trains were those returning to inner terminals such as Hoboken or Penn Station.

The cause was a rash of calls from engineers who are members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), who called in sick. The Star-Ledger reported that 205 engineers called to mark off on Friday, 143 on Saturday, and at least 133 on Sunday. BLET does not have a contract with NJT, although unions representing employees in other crafts do. The dispute was over holiday pay for Juneteenth, which New Jersey observed that Friday, although the federal holiday was the following Monday.

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NJT NonUnion Workers to Lose Free Ride Privileges

The time-honored perk of giving all railroad employees will end January 1 for NJ Transit nonunion employees,  following action at NJT’s Oct. 15 board meeting.  Union employees have the free rides written into their contracts, so won’t be affected, at least for the time being—although union contracts are currently under negotiation.  The change would be largely symbolic: the benefits have an estimated value of $1.6 million per year, a tiny fraction of NJT’s $3.1-billion budget.  However, it would bring NJT in line with several other transit operators, such at the Port Authority, which have eliminated free fares or free tolls for at least some employees. A line of angry employees queued up for the lectern as 30 people signed up to oppose the change at the board meeting, but to no avail: the board’s vote was unanimous.  (Mike Frassinelli, reporting in the Star-Ledger Oct. 16)