‘No movement’ as NJ Transit strike, Christie heading for vacation
With five days to go before a possible strike that could have catastrophic effects on commuters throughout the region, New Jersey Transit and the coalition of employee unions will meet again on Tuesday.
“NJ Transit came to the table today prepared to resolve this issue and made meaningful movement towards the unions' position. Regrettably, there was no material movement in the financial offer and absolutely no movement in the area of health benefits by the rail union coalition," NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder said in a statement.
SMART union coalition spokesman Stephen Burkert told NJ Advance Media his side was "still at the table for over an hour after they left, actions speak louder than words. We were prepared to go round the clock."
A strike by 4,000 union employees is scheduled to start at midnight on Sunday, March 13 if an agreement is not reached. NJ Transit has a contingency plan in place that would leave around 65,000 rail riders without a ride on Monday morning, relying heavily on busing to serve about 40,000 riders. Authorities also say it would put about another 10,000 cars on the road at any time during peak hours, and could lead to backups of as much as 23 miles on roads approaching New Jersey-New York crossings.
Gov. Chris Christie said he is monitoring the negotiations but will take a scheduled vacation with his wife Mary Pat to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.
"I haven't been to one negotiating session yet and, if I can avoid it I don't intend to," he said Monday. "It's not the job of the governor to negotiate this personally. It's the job of the governor to set down the parameters for the negotiation which are executed by the professionals who the state has hired."
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.