July 18, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Penn Station commuters told LaborPress on Tuesday that Governor Andrew Cuomo should intervene in the negotiations between the MTA and the Long Island Railroad unions to prevent a strike from starting on Saturday. The governor announced a tentative deal at his Manhattan offices on Thursday afternoon.
The governor said there was indeed a large chasm to close in order for the two sides to reach a new labor agreement. Two presidential emergency boards ruling that the unions’ offer of a six-year labor pact with 17 percent wage increases weren’t enough to seal a new deal with the MTA. The governor said he wasn’t opposed to the PEB rulings, but questioned how would they be paid for without jeopardizing the MTA’s capital budget and an increase in fares.
In the accompanying video, the governor explains the basic parameters of the tentative agreement.
“The question then became how do you pay for it [the PEB recommendations]. There are healthcare savings that all employees will contribute to. And for new hires there are wage progressions and pension plan and healthcare savings and those savings will allow the MTA to pay for the PEB settlement,” said Cuomo.
The tentative agreement caps a feverish round of negotiations that took place at the Proskauer Rose law offices on the West Side. Last Thursday afternoon, Anthony Simon, the chairperson of District 1 for the transportation division of the Sheet, Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Union said at a press conference that both sides were discussing the union’s latest counter-offer. But in an interview with LaborPress at the Babylon train station on Tuesday, Mr. Simon said he never got a call from the MTA after last Thursday’s meeting, prompting concerns that a strike was inevitable.
But after Governor Cuomo joined the negotiations, Mr. Simon said at Thursday’s presser that he believes the tentative agreement is ratifiable.
“This definitely is a fair contract. It’s a compromise by all parties to make sure that we continue down the road of a safe and reliable system. This is definitely a ratifiable, fair agreement.”