All parties came aboard Thursday to reach a tentative deal between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Long Island Rail Road unions just days before a strike could have shut down the system.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo invited representatives from both sides of the table to meet with him Thursday morning to settle the four-year-old contract dispute and hash out a deal before workers started the potential Sunday strike. By that afternoon, the parties agreed to a 17 percent wage increase without any fare hikes.
“The Long Island Rail Road is a critical artery in connecting the downstate region, and the men and women who keep it running play a vital role in the lives of our commuters and in the communities that the LIRR serves,” Cuomo said. “Resolving this contract dispute is the right thing to do, and the agreement we have reached today is fair to all parties. It recognizes the many contributions of the LIRR’s hardworking employees, while also maintaining the fiscal integrity of the MTA.”
The agreement was still tentative as of Thursday, but both parties publicly agreed to the terms, which included 17 percent raises over a term of six years. Workers will also for the first time contribute to their health insurance costs and new employees will be given different wage progressions and pension plan contributions, the contract agreement said.
“The agreement we reached today with the assistance of Governor Cuomo is just what he advocated – a fair and reasonable contract that will enable the nation’s busiest commuter railroad to continue to serve the people of Long Island,” MTA Chairman Thomas F. Prendergast said. “Both sides have compromised to reach an agreement that gives our employees the raises they deserve while also providing for the MTA’s long-term financial stability. I want to express my thanks to all the LIRR employees who continued to provide safe and reliable service through these discussions, and to our customers who can now be assured of uninterrupted service.”
Now, eight LIRR unions’ executive boards must approve and ratify the deal before the MTA’s board ultimately makes it official, Cuomo said.
“Today’s agreement provides a fair and equitable contract for our existing and future employees and we couldn’t have gotten it done without the governor’s help,” United Transportation Union President Anthony Simon said. “Our workers move hundreds of thousands of commuters a day and their services are integral to the New York economy. On behalf of 5,400 hardworking union members involved in these negotiations, I thank the governor for his efforts, and the MTA for coming to a compromise.”
By Phil Corso