July 15, 2014
By Beth Borzone
Talks between LIRR labor unions and MTA broke down today and the unions are preparing for a strike, according to a prepared statement by Anthony Simon, General Chairman, SMART and key spokesman for the unions.
“I regret to report that negotiations have collapsed with MTA, and all eight unions are now proceeding with strike plans for July 20,” Simon’s statement said.
The strike will begin on Sunday, but disruptions to services could begin as early as Wednesday.
“The strike will begin 12:01 a.m. this Sunday. Riders should be aware that the winding down of service will begin well before then, perhaps as early as Wednesday, as the railroad needs to secure its equipment,” Simon said.
The unions contend that they have been reasonable and made every effort to negotiate in good faith, but the MTA is purposely provoking a strike.
“MTA has clearly decided that provoking a strike is the course of action it intends to pursue. No further negotiations are scheduled,” Simon stated.
“The onus of this deadlock is solely on MTA,” Simon continued, “Two Boards of renowned and experienced arbitrators have recommended a fair compromise settlement. We are willing to accept the recommendations. MTA is not. MTA admitted to us that they know that historically the PEB (Presidential Emergency Board) recommendations are the basis for settlement. They told us they understand that the only way they can break this historical precedent is to take a strike. This is the course they have chosen.”
The unions also blame the MTA for the timing of the strike, stating that they were willing to extend the “cooling off period” into the fall, but the MTA was not.
“Make no mistake about it,” Simon stated, “The timing of this strike, with its devastating impact on Long Island’s summer season, is MTA’s decision. The unions repeated our offer to agree to the requests of the New York Congressional delegation, area residents and businesses to delay the strike until September, but MTA would not agree.”
The strike will be limited to Long Island Rail Road. It will not affect Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, Metro-North, or PATH and joint entrances will not be picketed, according to Simon’s statement.