LIRR talks resume after Congress won't intervene - FOX 32 News Chicago

LIRR talks resume after Congress won't intervene

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) - Contract negotiations between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Long Island Rail Road workers' unions resumed Thursday afternoon after several members of Congress said they would not step in to avert a strike. 

The legislators who met with MTA President Thomas Prendergast on Wednesday said both sides should not count on them to resolve the dispute. 

More than 5,000 workers are threatening to walk off the job on July 20. A shutdown of the train system could affect approximately 300,000 daily riders.

Prendergast had hoped that lawmakers might prevent the railroad's unions from paralyzing the nation's largest regional economy. He also asked for clarification of the role Congress intends to play.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he won't intervene in the dispute. In a statement Wednesday, Cuomo said that now that lawmakers have clarified their position, the parties need to make a deal.

"The unions' false belief that Congress would step in to mandate a settlement was a major impediment to any real progress," Cuomo said in the statement. "With this obstacle removed, it is now clear that the only path to resolution is at the bargaining table between the MTA and the unions, and they should proceed in good faith. The LIRR plays a unique role and is vital to Long Island’s economic and social activity. This dispute must be handled amicably."

Negotiations broke down on Tuesday afternoon between the MTA and workers. A coalition of LIRR unions have turned down the most recent deal that would have given them a 17 percent wage hike over seven years with no changes to pensions. That offer was an increase from 11 percent over six years previously presented by the MTA.

Workers have been without a contract since 2010.

The MTA has outlined a contingency plan in the event a deal cannot be reached by the strike deadline. It is asking riders to do the following:

  • Work from home
  • Stagger your shift
  • Stay with a friend or relative in NYC
  • Plan a vacation
  • Carpool
The MTA said it may provide shuttle buses from 30 communities that would take riders to the subway.

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