President Obama on Wednesday acceded to the demands of a train engineers' union, and by executive order created an emergency board to handle the labor dispute between the New Jersey Transit Rail and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

"The transit rail system is vital to our nation's economy and it's crucial that we ensure it runs smoothly," Obama said as he announced the executive order establishing the three-person panel. "That's why I'm grateful these talented individuals have agreed to serve the American people by helping to swiftly and appropriately resolve these labor-management disputes."

The engineers voted unanimously on July 8 to strike unless Obama assembled the emergency board, which now has 30 days to find a solution to the impasse.

Elizabeth Wesman, immediate past president of the National Association of Railroad Referees, is leading the arbitration-experienced panel. The other two members are Barbara Deinhardt, former chairwoman of the New York State Employment Relations Board, and Ann Kenis of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and American Arbitration Association.