Unions: Talks with MTA break down, prep for strike

Talks to avert a Long Island Rail Road strike broke down on Monday, and the unions representing workers at the nation's largest commuter railroad said they are proceeding with plans to strike on July 20.

"No further negotiations are scheduled," union negotiator Anthony Simon said in a statement after announcing that talks with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had collapsed.

Commuters board a Long Island Railroad train, Penn Station, New York City.
Wendy Connett | Flickr | Getty Images
Commuters board a Long Island Railroad train, Penn Station, New York City.

The two sides have been talking on and off for four years in an effort to reach a new contract for the 5,400 unionized LIRR workers.

A strike would leave 300,000 daily commuters from the New York City suburbs on Long Island scrambling for alternative transportation and force many of them onto already crowded roads and subway trains.

"Make no mistake about it: The timing of this strike, with its devastating impact on Long Island's summer season, is MTA's decision," Simon said in his statement.

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The MTA said Thomas Prendergast, the MTA's chairman, would discuss the negotiations in a press conference on Monday afternoon.

On Friday, the MTA announced details of a contingency plan in case of a strike,including school buses to shuttle 15,000 commuters and ferry services that could carry another 3,000 passengers. The MTA said it was also asking employers to allow tens of thousands of employees to work from home.

The MTA had offered a 17 percent wage increase over seven years and would require future employees to pay higher contributions for medical insurance and pensions.

In the last proposal made public by the coalition of eight unions representing LIRR, workers asked for a wage hike of 17 percent over six years without such concessions from future employees.

-- By Reuters

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