Cuomo Brokers Deal Averting New York Suburban Commuter Rail Strike
Posted at 9:07 a.m. on July 18, 2014
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has averted a potentially crippling Long Island Rail Road commuter rail strike in New York City’s suburbs.
In a news conference with labor union leaders and Tom Prendergast, head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Cuomo announced the accord which still must be ratified by the unions. The agreement headed off a strike that would have begun as early as Sunday.
Cuomo noted that “the funds that the MTA has come from the fare riders and from the taxpayers and…. we wanted to make sure that the fares don’t go up. We wanted to make sure that the MTA has the funds necessary to do the capital repairs that they need to do to keep the system safe.”
But he said he also sought “fair compensation for valued employees.”
He explained that “the Long Island Rail Road is in many ways unique. Long Island, by its configuration, doesn’t allow many options for commuters. And if the LIRR goes down, all of the Long Island suffers.”
New York news media report that the 5,400 union members will get a 17-percent raise over six-and-a-half years, but for the first time will be required to pay a share of their employer-provided health insurance costs. A two-tier system will be set up with newly hired workers contributing more towards pensions than current workers.
Last week Cuomo tried to hand off responsibility for preventing a strike to Congress. But on Wednesday the governor, who is seeking a second term this November, got involved in the negotiations and clinched a deal.
There is another transportation labor negotiation that’s still unresolved: contract talks covering nearly 20,000 workers at 29 West Coast ports between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association.