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New Jersey Transit and the 11 unions in the NJ Transit Rail Labor Coalition this week held their first negotiations since a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) selected the unions' final offer as the most reasonable.Talks between the agency and the unions continued, but no agreement was reached, coalition officials said in a press release. Both sides pledged to continue negotiating. The so-called "cooling off" period after the PEB's report ends 12:01 a.m. on March 13. If no deal is reached by that time, the unions can strike, or NJ Transit can lock its workers out, coalition officials said.A strike or lockout can be ended only by the parties agreeing to a settlement or Congress passing a law to end the dispute."The last thing we want is a strike," the coalition said in the release. "Our settlement proposal is modest and fair. All we are asking is what has been recommended by two expert neutral panels."The PEB's recommendations call for wage increases totaling 17 percent over a six-year term, among several other specific labor agreements. The unions have been working for five years without a contract.Local media earlier this week reported that there was high likelihood of a "soft strike" running March 12 through March 14.
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