July 17, 2014 | 1 comment | 3557 views
Cuomo: "We have settled a four-year dispute"
A Long Island Rail Road strike has been averted. The MTA and LIRR unions signed an agreement on Thursday at 1:38 p.m.
"We have settled a four-year dispute," Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference at his New York City office on Thursday at 1:26 p.m. (Governor's full statement at the end of this report.)
MTA Chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast said the two sides had reached a compromise that is "fair and reasonable."
Union leader Anthony Simon thanked the governor for stepping in. "This was about the riders," he said, calling the contract "fair." Simon said it was "a long road, a tough road," but that officials had reached a "ratifiable agreement."
Cuomo said that there had been a "very wide gulf" that "obviously has been crossed."
The exact terms of the agreement will not be released until the union membership ratifies it, but the six-and-a-half-year agreement appears, from what Cuomo and Prendergast said at the news conference, to be based on the two presidential boards' recommendations, with methods of funding the contract that both sides accepted. Cuomo said funding does not involve fare increases or the deferral of needed infrastructure improvements.
Cedarhurst resident Jeff Leb said, "I'm very happy that the LIRR strike has been averted and a tentative contract has been agreed upon. I'm grateful to Governor Cuomo for his involvement in making sure that the lives and jobs of thousands of New Yorkers were not disrupted."
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said: “I commend Governor Cuomo for averting a Long Island Rail Road strike, protecting our commuters and safeguarding our economy. The MTA’s long-term financial stability is critical and so is the vital transportation route they provide to Long Island commuters.”
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued a statement Thursday afternoon: “The New Yorkers who ride the LIRR are vital to our regional economy, and it would have been another economic setback for the region if the LIRR had come to a grinding halt. I commend the MTA, the LIRR unions and Governor Cuomo for steering negotiations to an agreement."
Negotiations among MTA officials and the eight unions threatening to strike had resumed on Wednesday afternoon and into the night, and again on Thursday morning.
Earlier on Thursday, July 17, Cuomo said that the "possible LIRR strike would be highly disruptive to the people and economy of Long Island. The parties returned to the negotiating table yesterday morning at my request. Late yesterday, when the conversations had not been fruitful, I began participating in them directly. Those conversations proceeded until late into the night.
"Time is very short," Cuomo continued Thursday morning. "We are less than 48 hours from the point at which the railroad would commence closing procedures. I want to make sure I have done everything I can possibly do to avert a strike, so I will now convene a meeting at 10 a.m. at my Manhattan office to continue discussions.”
Jacob Adler, a commuter who uses the Inwood train station on the Far Rockaway line, had this to say: