NEW YORK (PIX11) — Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials announced the latest developments in the ongoing negotiations with Long Island Rail Road unions.
On July 8, 2014, the agency and LIRR unions will participate in talks with that have been scheduled by the National Mediation Board.
Long Island lawmakers held a news conference calling on “Governor Cuomo to intervene and to resolve the LIRR/MTA contract dispute in order to prevent “a devastating strike.”
The MTA is also working on a contingency plan in case of a strike. The unions are seeking terms along the lines of those recommended by a Presidential Review Board.
Railroad union officials received the latest deal at the end of June. A meeting that week produced no agreement.
The MTA says this offer gives current workers the raises they were requesting during a recent federal review period (and as recommended by the review board).
But there are some changes to the deal: it’s for 7 years instead of 6; and for new hires, there are changes to the raise structure, 2% higher health-care contributions, and longer pension contributions.
The coalition representing the unions says the federal review board’s recommendation was a compromise and they are seeking those terms.
An employee contribution to health care was part of the deal that was agreed upon. Current employees would contribute 2% (presently, they do not have a contribution).
This new deal calls for new hires to contribute 4%.
The MTA has been in negotiation with eight LIRR unions who have the right to walk off the job at 12:01 a.m. July 20 under the Federal Railway Labor Act. That legislation dictates the review board process and negotiations. Ultimately, the U.S. Congress may have to be involved.
Workers been without a contract since 2010. The MTA reports this deal would apply to 5,403 current employees at LIRR.
Town officials in Hempstead on Long Island are concerned that the MTA’s plans for buses to transport some commuters would cause traffic problems.
The MTA says it is still working on details, but there’s no way to replace the LIRR.