NJ Transit rail service resumes following Friday night shutdown amid union dispute

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- New Jersey Transit rail service resumed on a regular weekend schedule Saturday after service was suspended Friday night amid a union dispute.

On Friday, commuters were sent scrambling to look for a way home after it was announced that the last train out of Penn Station would be at 8:05 p.m.

"I was like, I'll catch the next train - there's way too many people here, everybody is standing by the way. All the cars are full," Mirza Razzaq said

Razzaq made it onto a train out of Penn Station, but he got off, not realizing what was happening.

"I was on the New Jersey Transit app, it said there were trains after that - the 3883. I come back, they're all canceled," he added.

Dozens of trains were canceled throughout the day on Friday as Penn Station was jammed with frustration.

NJ Transit says the number of engineer calls out today nearly tripled the rate of an average weekday.

"NJ Transit became aware of a rumor late in the day yesterday that the locomotive engineers' union, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLE&T), could potentially initiate an illegal job action today," the spokesperson said. "With today's engineer call outs at nearly triple the rate of an average weekday, it is clear that this is the result of an illegal job action. NJ Transit is disappointed that the union would perpetrate such an act on the more than 100,000 commuters who depend on NJ Transit rail service every day. We intend to explore all legal remedies in response to this illegal and irresponsible action."

NJ Transit believes it is the result of an ongoing union negotiation with the brotherhood of locomotive engineers and trainmen. The only union out of 15, NJ Transit that has not signed the new collective bargaining agreement which would have included Juneteenth as a holiday - meaning its members would not receive holiday pay on Friday.
The union has not responded to Eyewitness News' request for comment.

NJ Transit says it will explore all legal remedies in response to this illegal and irresponsible action, adding that they are disappointed the union would perpetuate such an act on the more than 100,000 commuters who depend on NJ Transit rail service every day.

Passenger advocacy groups say they sympathize with the union.

"What they should've done was tell people yesterday that they were going on strike, not do this throughout the day like a wildcat strike and strand people. That is not the way you win support with passengers," said Charlton D'Souza of Passengers United.

There were riders willing to put up with what they call an inconvenience.

"I'm not happy they're striking, but just give them what they want, for God's sake," said rider Amr Ahmad, "If it's for the benefit of the employees, then I'm good with canceled."

Another mediation session is scheduled for next week.

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