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The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) is conducting a vote on whether to initiate a strike to attain bargaining goals at New Jersey Transit.BLET mailed out strike ballots to more than 400 locomotive engineers Monday.The authorization does not necessarily mean a strike will occur, BLET officials said in a press release."We seek a voluntary settlement and not a strike, said BLET NJ Transit General Chairman David Decker Jr. "That having been said, we must strive for the best but prepare for the worst."The union has been bargaining with NJ Transit for a new contract for locomotive engineers since April 12, 2011, and the dispute had been in mediation since June 11, 2014. The National Mediation Board (NMB) released BLET from mediation with NJ Transit June 12, when BLET formally declined the board's proffer of arbitration. The NMB is legally bound to proffer binding arbitration to the unions and NJ Transit before it can release the parties from mediation.If either side notifies the board that they declined the arbitration, a 30-day "cooling off" period must pass before either the unions or the railroad can exercise self-help, meaning BLET could strike.
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