Over 300,000 Long Island Rail Road commuters may have to prepare for a potentially crippling July strike after all. With three weeks remaining before the current LIRR contract deadline expires, contracts talk between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the eight LIRR unions ended with no compromise on June 27.
Following last Friday’s meeting, Anthony Simon, general chairman of the unions, said he was tired of dealing with the MTA’s “arrogance and disrespect” over the past four years.
Union members threatened to end negotiations after learning that MTA officials had discussed their proposal with members of the press prior to the meeting.
In its latest proposal to head off a strike on July 20, the MTA offered the LIRR unions a 17 percent raise over seven years. The authority’s previous proposal was 11 percent over six years. The unions are seeking a 17 percent raise over six years. The authority also proposed that current LIRR workers contribute 2 percent of their salaries to their health care, and that new hires contribute 4 percent. LIRR workers currently do not make any salary contribution to their health care.
In a press conference on June 24, Simon said that the MTA’s latest proposal is geared toward dividing the unions, which would provoke a strike. He also said that it would not affect the unions’ unity, because they are all “speaking the same language.”
The MTA’s contingency plan includes busing LIRR commuters to New York City. MTA officials have also suggested that commuters stay home in the event of a strike.