MTA reviewing union counteroffer after “productive day” on Thursday

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (PIX11) -- Friday, MTA officials continue to review a counter ffer from the Long Island Rail Road labor coalition. The agency also will hold a teleconference with reporters Friday afternoon "to explain contingency plans that have been created to help New Yorkers travel in the event that LIRR service is suspended by a labor action."

Thursday's meetings were described, in public comments, as a productive day for negotiators working to resolve the LIRR contract dispute. But the two sides still have some issues to work out and a strike is still on the table.

Representatives from the LIRR labor coalition met with MTA President Tom Prendergast. The union coalition submitted a counter offer and the MTA is evaluating it. Both sides have promised further discussions.

Details of the offer were not made public.

On Wednesday afternoon, members of the New York delegation indicated Congress would not get involved.

Talks broke down on Tuesday and the agency's chairman headed to Washington, D.C. to meet with lawmakers about the labor dispute Wednesday morning.

PIX11 News' Greg Mocker also traveled to the nation's capital to bring you the latest on the negotiations and the potentially crippling strike looming over nearly 300,000 commuters who use the LIRR daily.

The NY delegation in Congress said it would not intervene in the labor dispute, saying the transportation agency and the rail road union need to come to an agreement on their own. Representatives asked leaders on both sides to meet again and bring offers to the table.

The elected representatives say this is a labor and management issue that needs to the resolved in the state.

Representative Peter King (R-New York) says Congressional intervention would be a "roll of the dice."

Representative Steve Israel (D-Long Island) says it's time to bring in the "cots and extra coffee."

LIRR labor coalition leader Anthony Simon said, "Why are we waiting for Congress? We are not looking for Congressional involvement. Let's do it today."

The Federal Railway Labor Act outlines the procedures during LIRR and Metro-North negotiations if with side believes there is a stalemate.

On July 20 at 12:01 a.m., a cooling off period ends. Workers have voted to support a strike or both sides could continue talking.

In the event of a strike under the federal law, Congress has the authority to order a settlement or eventually order them back to work. The state and union leaders could adopt their own agreement. Leaders have speculated this current divided Congress would not be quick to take up the issue.

In 1994, a two-day LIRR strike ended when then-Governor Mario Cuomo agreed to the union's terms. His son, Andrew, was an advisor during that term and he is now New York's Governor.

“I want to thank the New York State Congressional Delegation for making it abundantly clear today that Congress will not act to bring about a labor settlement at the Long Island Rail Road," Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

"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."

On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said this was not the same as other union contracts he helped negotiate and that the role of Congress was "pivotal."

The MTA has offered 17% raises to current employees over 7 years. A point of disagreement is the MTA's additional provision that the agency says would pay for the increase.

New hires would pay higher pension and health care contributions. The raises for new hires would be spread over a longer amount of time.

About 5,200 LIRR workers have been without a contract since 2010. A federal review board recommended a package that included 17 percent raises over 6 years and a 2 percent employee health care contribution.

The union coalition has said it would accept that recommendation. But the MTA said it can’t afford the deal, which it said would force the agency to use funds that could be put toward projects.

The MTA has offered 17 percent raises for current employees over 7 years, with new hires contributing 4 percent to health care and more to their pensions. Raises for the new hires would be every other year instead of every year (for a period of 10 years, instead of 5).

The unions say that would diminish the quality of the jobs.

As of Friday, July 11, 2014, this was the offer being discussed as detailed by the MTA at the end of June.

MTA's LIRR offer


samtata July 9, 201412:15 PM

samtata July 9, 201412:15 PM

samtata July 9, 201412:16 PM

samtata July 9, 201412:17 PM
samtata July 9, 201412:21 PM

MTA spokesperson Adam Lisberg says the agency’s most recent offer gives current workers what they are asking for — by Greg Mocker

10:15 a.m. Wednesday, July 9: Reading on the road 

Some people have messaged me asking why Congress has anything to do with this. 

The federal Railway Labor Act governs the negotiations with the LIRR and railroads (not our subways and buses, that’s different). The federal act allows railroad workers to strike or the agency to lock them out if a deal cannot be reached. Congress could order the workers back to work, or create a new contract. 

“We continue to hope that we can avoid a work stoppage at the bargaining table,” MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast said. “But nevertheless, we want LIRR customers and all Long Island residents to be aware that there is a potential for a disruption of service and what that might mean.”

The MTA’s negotiators met with LIRR union coalition leaders and a federal mediator again on Tuesday in Midtown Manhattan. No agreement was reached. 

Anthony Simon, the LIRR union coalition leader, says they are willing to continue negotiating.

“The MTA waits two weeks before the date to go talk to Congress? Quit playing games,” said Simon. “Why are we waiting for Congress?”

Labor leaders are calling on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to get involved before the strike. He appoints the MTA Chairman and board with the consent of the State Senate. 

samtata July 9, 201412:27 PM
samtata July 9, 201412:46 PM
Jeremy Tanner July 9, 20141:10 PM

Jeremy Tanner July 9, 20141:24 PM

Jeremy Tanner July 9, 20141:26 PM

Jeremy Tanner July 9, 20141:41 PM

Allison Yang July 9, 20142:28 PM

Back in 1994, the LIRR shut down because of a strike under very similar circumstances. Here, a PIX11 reporter follows a woman on her way to work … it took three hours. With a possible strike looming in less than two weeks, commuters may face a scene much worse than in 1994.

Allison Yang July 9, 20142:29 PM

In 1994, a channel 11 reporter followed a woman on her way to work in the city. It was a journey that took 3 hours. She had to drive to a parking lot, buy a ticket and catch a bus to take her to the subway, then take a subway into Manhattan. The last time she was on a school bus was in 6th grade.

Allison Yang July 9, 20142:32 PM

The 1994 LIRR strike occurred under shockingly similar circumstances as the possible one this year. LIRR workers had spent 2 years working without a contract in 1994. Today, LIRR workers have been working without a contract for 4 years. Yet again, negotiations are still breaking down. Congress is not offering much help to the MTA.

Allison Yang July 9, 20142:43 PM

Back to the negotiating table tomorrow … #MTA and #LIRR union coalition agree to resume contract talks on Thursday in Manhattan

7 members of Congress have met with MTA Chairman and staff for about an hour.

Congress made the point that this is a state issue. The MTA Chairman has more meetings scheduled.