July 14, 2014 | 1885 views
With LIRR strike looming, Bellmore-Merrick commuters are on edge
Bellmore-Merrick commuters said this week that they were growing increasingly anxious as salary and benefit negotiations between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Long Island Rail Road’s eight unions stalled without an agreement to stave off a planned July 20 strike.
On Monday, the Herald Life received word that a Monday morning negotiating session had "collapsed," and that the unions were proceeding with plans to strike.
A strike would be disastrous for the region’s economy, said commuters interviewed by the Herald Life during July 14’s morning rush hour. “I wasn’t that worried about it until now,” said Dave Francis, of Bellmore, a three-year LIRR commuter, as he awaited the train in Bellmore. Francis said that he recently bought a motorcycle. “Maybe that will come in handy,” he joked.
At the Merrick train station, Merokean Angela Oliveri said a strike would “be an overall nightmare.” Oliveri, who works in the apparel business in Manhattan, said she would stay with her mother in Queens and take the subway to work in the event of a strike. Her employer, she said, would not allow her work from home.
Twenty-year-old Brittany Mascaro, of Merrick, is interning at a New York City hospital. If there were a strike, she said, she would likely have to reduce or possibly end her internship. “I expect they’ll tell me not to work,” she said. “I’d be disappointed. It’s good experience, and I wouldn’t get the hours I need.”
Jason Gross, of Bellmore, who commutes to the city daily, said a strike “would certainly make it harder to get into work.” But, he added, “The unions have a right to collective bargaining.” He said he would drive to Queens to get the E train into Manhattan if there were strike.
The MTA released its strike contingency plan to the media in a conference call on July 11. In a strike, the MTA would bus commuters to Queens subway stations from seven LIRR stations, including Seaford, Bellmore, Freeport, Hicksville, Manhasset, Deer Park and Ronkonkoma; Nassau Community College, in Garden City, would be involved as well. There would also be a total of 7,000 park-and-ride spots available at Aqueduct Racetrack and Citi Field in Queens and a ferry from Glen Cove. All services would be free.
The MTA’s contingency plan can be found at mta.info.