- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama has signed an executive order to create an emergency board to investigate the dispute between New Jersey Transit and its labor unions.

Talks between the transit agency and labor unions broke down last month. The negotiations include all 17 of NJ Transit’s unions that represent more than 4,000 workers. The unions have been working without a contract for four years.

The board will report back to Obama within 30 days of starting its work Thursday.

The executive order freezes conditions for 120 days unless the transit agency and unions come to an agreement. A second board could be empaneled if there isn’t an agreement in that time. If that doesn’t yield an agreement, Congress could impose a new contract.

Appointees Elizabeth Wesman, Barbara Deinhardt, and Ann Kenis are all professional arbitrators.

NJ Transit Executive Director Ronnie Hakim said Wednesday the agency had requested the intervention and is hopeful it will help reach a decision.

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