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LIRR strike called likely after talks collapse on Monday

NEW YORK – More than 300,000 Long Island Rail Road commuters face a growing likelihood they will be without their rides next Monday, following collapse of negotiations on Monday.  A session between the LIRR and eight unions representing workers ended after only 45 minutes.

Both sides say they are far apart. 

“The MTA remains committed to settling this matter quickly, but any new agreement must be affordable not just today, but also into the future, without jeopardizing the investments necessary to maintain the service we provide our riders or placing additional pressure on future fares,” says an “open letter”, signed by Thomas Prendergast, MTA Chairman and CEO.

The letter, on the MTA website, says their current offer includes a 17 percent wage increase over seven years, a healthcare contribution by workers of just two percent of base salary, and no changes to pension contributions or work rules.  Future LIRR employees would contribute four percent to healthcare.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli estimated a potential Long Island Rail Road strike could cause up to $50 million in lost economic activity each day.

“A LIRR strike would cause headaches and financial hardships for riders and businesses. It would also be another devastating blow to a region that is still struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy and the recession,” DiNapoli said. “Both sides must go the extra mile to reach a reasonable settlement so we can avoid the costly impact of a strike and the millions of dollars in lost economic activity.”