Chris Christie may be out of the presidential race, but soon he will get a chance to revel in the glory of plunging thousands of his state’s commuters into a living hell. It’s almost time for a transit strike!
New Jersey Transit, the trains that, yes, take people through New Jersey, but much more importantly take New Jersey people to and from New York City for work, is facing a March 13 deadline on a contract dispute with its unionized workers. If they don’t come to an agreement, the first NJ Transit strike since 1983 years is poised to happen.
The issues at hand are traditional ones: the agency wants smaller pay raises and more money from workers for insurance, and the unions want the opposite. (The Wall Street Journal notes that the workers are asking for terms similar to what Long Island Railroad workers got last year—a 17% pay increase over more than six years.) In the event of a strike, New Jersey commuters... well I’ll be honest with you folks, New Jersey commuters would be downright fucked. Without those trains running, the agency has contingency plans that might “accommodate only about one-third of its estimated 110,000 train passengers headed to Manhattan each weekday.” And even those lucky third might, for example, be on a bus, at rush hour, coming through the tunnels.
Of course, there’s still plenty of time for a strike to be averted. Everyone involved has a mutual interest in avoiding a work stoppage and reaching an agreement. So as long as there are calm, rational adults on both sides of the table...
Mr. Christie has already taken an aggressive posture in the NJ Transit dispute, saying in a radio interview on Monday: “We represent the riders, the fare-payers, the taxpayers—and some of these things that are being demanded are outrageous.”
If you live in New Jersey, make plans to work at home for a while.