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Congress kicks LIRR negotiations back to state as MTA warns of strike

New York's congressional delegation said Wednesday that it will not intervene in ongoing talks between the MTA and LIRR workers.

mta lirr strike Thomas Prendergast MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast sat down with six Congress members early Wednesday in what he said was an attempt to show no one should count on Washington D.C. to intervene. The lawmakers agreed.
Credit: Getty Images

New York's congressional delegation said Wednesday that it will not intervene in ongoing talks between the Metropolitan Transpiration Authority and Long Island Rail Road workers.

Unless the MTA and the labor groups, represented by the United Transportation Union, can come to an agreement by as early as July 20, a strike might leave some 300,000 daily riders stranded.

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In preparation for the threat of said strike, the MTA went on an advertising spree to warn customers that they could expect congested roadways and "significantly longer" commutes.

The transit authority suggested a strike might mean riders should work from home or stay with friends near New York City, consider telecommuting, carpool or use bus services.

MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast sat down with six Congress members early Wednesday in what he said was an attempt to show no one should count on Washington D.C. to intervene. The lawmakers agreed.

"Neither side should anticipate congress being involved," Rep. Peter King told reporters after the meeting. "For anybody to be looking for a silver bullet from Congress would be making a big mistake."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo also lauded the lack of intervention by Congress, arguing the union had a "false belief" federal lawmakers would step in and calling it "a major impediment to any real progress."

But labor leaders pushed back on the notion that they were counting on Congress stepping in.

"It was not the unions who went to DC looking for Congress," Anthony Simon, a spokesman for the coalition of LIRR workers, wrote in an e-mail, "and we have maintained that the only solution was here in New York."

Simon went on to say that MTA leadership should "stop playing games with people lives."

Back in D.C., Prendergast accused the labor representatives of not budging in the talks.

"We've moved four times," Prendergast said. "You have to have two willing parties at the table. We're on the cusp of possible having two willing parties at the table."

Talks are expected to resume Thursday.

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter@chestersoria

 
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