Sat., Sept. 30, NJ Transit to celebrate 40 years with VIPs riding in historic rail cars. Protesting locomotive engineers will ask riders questions about the rail agency’s current policies and future.
Transit agency spends $440+ million on lavish new and unnecessary executive offices while engineers haven’t had a raise since 2019.
BAY HEAD, N.J. - On Saturday, September 30, NJ Transit will celebrate its history by packing a 40th Anniversary Express with rail buffs, VIPs and NJ Transit managers for a trip from New York’s Penn Station down NJ Transit’s North Coast Line. When the train stops at Bay Head for a catered lunch, the train will be greeted by a rally of sign-carrying locomotive engineers and union activists, not focused on the railroad’s past, but raising questions about the commuter railroad’s current management policies and NJ Transit’s future.
“We’re fed up with NJT’s misplaced priorities,” said BLET President Eddie Hall. “NJ Transit is off track. The executives have time to sit in ‘first class’ seats and they have $440 million for lavish new office space, while the locomotive engineers who keep the trains running haven’t had a raise for four years.” The transit agency recently announced that they would spend more than $440 million to lease luxury office space.
WHO/WHAT: Rally and protest by NJ Transit’s locomotive engineers and supporters as NJ Transit celebrates its 40th anniversary.
WHEN/WHERE: Saturday, Sept. 30, Noon, New Jersey Transit Bay Head Station, Birch Place and Osborne Avenue, Bay Head, N.J.
Prior to Labor Day, BLET members at NJ Transit voted unanimously to authorize a strike as soon as it becomes lawful to walk out, if a voluntary settlement isn’t reached.
The union maintains that NJT should have wages closer to engineers’ wages at other commuter railroads. With the exception of one other transit agency, NJT’s engineers are the lowest-paid engineers working in commuter service in the nation.
NJT’s locomotive engineers have been seeking a new contract since October 2019. The contract dispute has been in mediation with the National Mediation Board, the federal labor agency charged with facilitating labor-management relations for the nation’s railroads, for nearly three years.
Earlier this month the union began placing billboards in Newark, Trenton and other locations with a message that New Jersey Transit has “millions for penthouse views, but not a dime for train crews. “ An image of the billboards can be seen here.
The BLET is receiving support both for its Sept. 30 protest and its campaign for a fair contract from both the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the New Jersey State AFL-CIO. Additionally, BLET is reaching out to rail passengers and labor households across the state with information about NJT’s mismanagement and short-sighted decision-making as well as inaction by state elected leaders. “We intend to make this an election issue,” said Hall. “Voters should know if their elected leaders back NJT prioritizing penthouse views over train crews.”
“As they’re sipping cold drinks on their way down the coast speaking wistfully about NJ Transit’s history, I wonder if they will leave out the part about shortages of engineers routinely leading to train delays and cancellations during Gov. Christie’s years in office,” said General Chairman James Brown, who represents BLET members at NJ Transit. “We may see history repeat itself unless there is a shift in priorities.”