‘Time is very short’: Talks to avert LIRR strike resume at Cuomo’s office

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NEW YORK (PIX11) – As the clock ticks down toward a potentially crippling Long Island Rail Road strike, MTA and union leaders returned to the bargaining table Thursday.

Both sides will resume their negotiations at 10 a.m. at Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Manhattan office, a scene change that could signal possible movement to avert a work stoppage.

"Late (Wednesday), when the conversations had not been fruitful, I began participating in them directly," Cuomo said in a statement Thursday. "Those conversations proceeded until late into the night.

"Time is very short. ... I want to make sure I have done everything I can possibly do to avert a strike."

Cuomo the day before described his outlook as "cautiously optimistic."

Speaking after five hours of negotiations on Wednesday in midtown Manhattan, the MTA and LIRR labor representatives emphasized they had not agreed on terms and would not comment on specifics.

Union leaders said they are still prepared to go on strike on at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. MTA officials said service changes could be implemented beginning on Saturday.

Both sides are battling over how much future LIRR workers will have to pay into their pensions and for healthcare and also the timing of raises for new hires. Current employees have been without a contract since 2010.

In the most recent, publicly disclosed deal last week, the MTA offered current LIRR employees:

  • A 17 percent wage increase over seven years
  • An average $22,000 retroactive payment
  • Health care contributions of just 2% of base salary
  • No changes to pension contributions
  • No changes to work rules

The union questions the MTA's math and the timing of the actual savings in the MTA budget. Both parties have agreed that current employees would contribute 2 percent to health care. LIRR workers currently do not pay anything.

"We're not any closer, we're not any further [to reaching an agreement]," a union representative said when asked if the parties had made any headway.

Nick Powell with "City & State" spoke to PIX11's Greg Mocker. They discussed Governor Cuomo's comments, which began with his interest in the role of Congress to his latest statement that a strike would hold Long Islanders "hostage."

Follow the live blog below for the the latest information and updates:


Allison Yang July 17, 201412:50 PM

LIRR union has stated that the strike has been averted.


samtata July 17, 20149:13 AM
Ashley Edwards July 16, 20146:32 PM

“We’re not any closer, we’re not any further away,” LIRR union rep. says of negotiations.

Ashley Edwards July 16, 20146:30 PM

“We are not leaving until we can get this done,” LIRR union rep. says at press conference.

Ashley Edwards July 16, 20146:28 PM

MTA, LIRR unions agree to talk through the night to avoid possible strike.

Rolando Pujol July 16, 20145:14 PM

Rolando Pujol July 16, 20143:23 PM

Jeremy Tanner July 16, 20142:06 PM

Both sides have returned to table after Governor Cuomo issued a press release today asking both sides to talk. 

The tone was stronger than it has been in his previous comments: “We must do everything we can to prevent Long Islanders from being held hostage by a strike
that would damage the regional economy and be highly disruptive for
commuters,” according to Cuomo. “Both the MTA and the LIRR unions need to put
the interests of New Yorkers first.”

The representatives are meeting now at midtown law offices.

“We have our hotel rooms,” says LIRR labor leader Anthony Simon. 

Sources believe a new deal will be presented. 

Alyssa Zauderer July 16, 201410:35 AM

Alyssa Zauderer July 15, 20146:54 PM

Alyssa Zauderer July 15, 20145:22 PM

See the full report on the 1994 LIRR strike from the PIX11 archives: https://pix11.com/2014/07/09/from-1994-lirr-workers-go-on-strike-snarling-traffic/

Alyssa Zauderer July 15, 20144:45 PM

Alyssa Zauderer July 15, 20144:31 PM

“Unionized Long Island Rail Road workers are the best paid in the nation. They make almost $90,000 a year, get free health care and generous pensions. The MTA offered to up their salary 17% without raising fares or delaying service improvements, by making modest changes for workers who haven’t even been hired yet. Current employees would get everything they asked for. Yet the unions are still threatening to strike. When is enough enough? Get all the facts at mta.info,” a spokesperson for the MTA said Tuesday.

Alyssa Zauderer July 15, 20144:27 PM

Alyssa Zauderer July 15, 20144:25 PM

Alyssa Zauderer July 15, 20144:24 PM

Alyssa Zauderer July 15, 20144:21 PM

Alyssa Zauderer July 15, 20144:21 PM