Strike looms as LIRR, MTA talks break down
Unless union leaders and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority can come to an agreement, New Yorkers can expect service along the Long Island Rail Road to begin winding down come Saturday.
After a Monday morning meeting between LIRR labor representatives and MTA officials that lasted less than 45 minutes, spokesman for the coalition of LIRR workers Anthony Simon said talks had “collapsed.”
“MTA has clearly decided that proving a strike is the course of action it intends to pursue,” Simon said in a statement, adding no new negotiations are scheduled.
He also said that members from the eight unions serving on the LIRR planned to strike as of Sunday at 12:01 a.m., blaming the deadlock on the transit agency’s inability to meet a settlement devised by two presidential emergency boards.
“Make no mistake about it,” Simons said. “The timing of this strike, with its devastating impact on Long Island’s summer season, is MTA’s decision.”
Last week, the labor coalition presented the MTA with a counteroffer to their third proposal, which MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast said Monday afternoon wasn’t enough to move the needle.
Prendergrast explained that the MTA’s schedule for fare increases and infrastructure spending would be under pressure if the agency were to take the LIRR workers’ deal.
“The spirit of negotiations is give and take. We’ve done giving — they’ve done taking,” he added. “Until they’re ready to move, there’s no reason to have negotiations.”
With the unions prepared to strike, the MTA is standing by their contingency plan, whereby a fraction of the 300,000 daily riders who use the LIRR system can commute via prearranged buses and a ferry.
The plan also calls for traffic controls as the number of cars into the city are expected to balloon. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who currently plans to go on a 10-day vacation two days before the scheduled strike.
“The coordination between the state, the MTA and the city is very strong, so I feel confident we’re in good shape,” de Blasio said at an unrelated press event.
According to MTA officials, the agency continues to be in contact with the mayor’s office, the city’s Office for Emergency Management, county exectuives in Long Island and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.
Last week, Cuomo said a strike “is just not an option and would be a terrible failure by both the unions and the MTA.”
Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria