(Updated) MINEOLA, N.Y. — Negotiators for the New York transit authority and the unions representing Long Island Rail Road workers arrived at a Manhattan law office Wednesday to resume talks aimed at avoiding a weekend strike that would strand the commuter rail system's nearly 300,000 daily riders, reported the Times Colonist.
MINEOLA, N.Y. — Pessimism grew about the prospects of a strike by Long Island Rail Road workers this weekend after union negotiators said Monday that talks had collapsed amid a dispute over whether future employees should be required to contribute to their health insurance and pensions, the Portland Press Herald reported.
RELATED: Possible strike would shut down U.S.' largest commuter rail system
A walkout, planned for next Sunday, July 20, would affect 300,000 daily riders who travel in and out of New York City from Long Island.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman/CEO Thomas Prendergast said he was open to further negotiations aimed at preventing a strike, but said unions were unwilling to yield on the issue of making future LIRR employees contribute to their health plans and pensions, according to the report.
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MTA Chairman/CEO Prendergast's Open Letter to LIRR Customers
Long Island Rail Road union leaders have threatened to strike as early as Sunday, July 20th.
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.
In the most recent MTA offer, a current LIRR employee would receive:
• A 17% wage increase over seven years
• An average $22,000 retroactive payment
• Healthcare contributions of just 2% of base salary
• No changes to pension contributions
• No changes to work rules
To afford this offer, the MTA asks that future LIRR employees:
• Contribute 4% to healthcare
• Contribute to their pensions throughout their career as an LIRR employee
• Work more years to reach top pay
Under this plan, both existing and new LIRR employees will remain the highest paid commuter railroad workers in the country, and with the best pension in the industry.
A strike would have a devastating impact. It’s time to have productive negotiations to resolve our differences and return to what we all do best together — serving our LIRR customers.
Thomas F. Prendergast
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer