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Hundreds Rally For Union Workers As Possible NJ TRANSIT Strike Looms

WOODBRIDGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Hundreds of people packed a playground in Woodbridge Saturday morning to show support for union workers who are currently locked in a contract dispute with NJ TRANSIT.

With his hands in his pockets, union representative and train operator David Decker shook his head, and spoke to the crowd on the hardships workers faced due to lack of a raise, WCBS 880's Sophia Hall reported.

"Everything goes up, the cost of food goes up -- luckily in the last year the gas has come down -- but over the past five years it wasn't the case.  "...Everything's gone up, but salary hasn't." 

NJ TRANSIT unions have been working without a new contract since 2011 and union leaders are adamant about changes they'd like to see in order for a deal to be reached.

If a contract deal isn't reached before March 13, transit workers are threatening to head to the picket lines.

"When we go on strike, if we go on strike it will be financial devastation to the area," one worker told CBS2's Steve Langford.

Without train service, more than 100,000 commuters will have to scramble to try to find another way to work every weekday.

There is a highly charged political backdrop to the showdown, with a governor who ended his big for president but now campaigns for Donald Trump.

But according to union spokesperson Steve Burkert, the last thing they want to do is go on strike.

"Absolutely not, that would be a last resort for us and they would have to force us into that," Burkert said. "We have done everything in our power to negotiate -- every opportunity that we had we sat at the negotiating table."

"It would be horrible... how else are people going to commute?" commuter Sarah Burke told CBS2.

NJ TRANSIT unveiled its contingency plan Thursday,  but said the service won't be able to get all commuters into New York --  which could spell chaos for the 160,000 daily commuters passengers and for tens of thousands of other commuters who might not even take mass transit.

NJ TRANSIT and the rail workers unions met with the National Mediation Board in Washington Friday, and they are scheduled to negotiate again in New Jersey on Monday.

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