September 20, 2010
By Neal Tepel
Barring another government rescue, thousands of Long Islanders will see their commutes disrupted when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority implements their next round of service cuts for Long Island Rail Road and Long Island Bus.
Organized and lead by the United Transportation Union, over one-thousand turned out on August 31, 2010 in Mineola for a massive demonstration protesting MTA cuts to Long Island services and workers.
"On-time trains, well maintained equipment and facilities and the safety and security of our riders are a direct result of union workers," said United Transportation Union General Chairman Anthony Simon at an August 31st demonstration in Mineola. "The highly trained, hard working and qualified employees of the LIRR are blue collar workers who are dedicated to the public. Dedicated, concerned and highly skilled LIRR workers are the glue keeping the aged and deteriorating LIRR infrastructure intact and running, no matter the weather conditions," Simon continued.
Long Island Federation of Labor President John Durso also addressed the crowd stating that cutbacks on the Long Island Railroad would undermine commuter services and safety. LIRR operations are critical to the survival of Long Island and reductions in service will have a detrimental effect on the economy which is already facing the worst recession in many years, said Durso.
Joining Simon and Durso were many labor leaders and elected officials including: U.S. Representatives Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.), Steven Israel (D-N.Y.), Peter King (R-N.Y.), and Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) as well as many other local and state legislators.
Let this message be clear to the MTA when they come to Washington looking for help said Congressman Gary Ackerman. "We want to know they are doing the right thing by the people who keep this system running. We will stand side-by-side with labor." Representative Tim Bishop stated that "Unions built this railroad and are the ones who keep it running every day." Congressman Steven Israel added that MTA needs to "get rid of high priced executives and keep our frontline labor force working."
The MTA will be holding hearings on their proposed fare hikes and service changes. The hearings on Long Island will take place, Thursday, September 16, beginning at 6 PM at the Garden City Hotel, 45 Seventh Street in Garden City. A second hearing will be held Monday, September 20th at the Suffolk County Legislature, 725 Veterans Memorial Highway.
Editorial Note: Laborpress will be reporting industry and labor news on Long Island as well as New York City.