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Why do NJ Transit rail workers want to strike?

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NEW YORK — At the heart of New Jersey Transit’s looming rail strike are the demands of 4,300 unionized workers over wages and health care contributions.

Workers, represented by the NJT Rail Labor Coalition comprised of 11 unions, are asking for a contract averaging 2.5 percent a year in raises and “significant increases” in employee health care contributions, according to the Teamsters. NJ Transit is offering 0.6 percent net wage increases per year.

Rail workers have gone five years without a contract, according to a spokesman for the NJT Rail Labor Coalition.

If a deal is not struck by 12:01 a.m. Sunday, March 13, rail workers can strike or New Jersey Transit can lock out its employees — a work stoppage that can be reversed only by both sides agreeing on a settlement or by an act of Congress.

Immediately, all rail lines would stop running  that serve 160,000 weekday train riders. Under the strike contingency plan, just 40,000 seats would be available.