Cuomo announces deal between Transit Authority and unions

There will be no railroad strike in New York this weekend. A settlement, first announced Thursday, has been reached.

“Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast, and United Transportation Union President Anthony Simon, representing a coalition of eight LIRR labor unions, today announced an agreement to settle a four-year-old contract dispute between the MTA and the unions” stated a press release from the governor’s office.

Negotiations  earlier this week between Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) unions went from bad to worse as unions began plans to strike.

In the press release, Cuomo states the importance of such a deal and the impact a strike would have “The Long Island Rail Road in many ways is unique. Long Island, by its configuration doesn’t allow many options for commuters, and if the LIRR goes down all of Long Island suffers to the tune of tens of millions of dollars per day. Not to mention the personal hardship, not to mention the safety concerns that would have occurred if we actually had a strike.”

A statement released by the MTA clarified what the agreement contained: “Under the terms of the agreement, based on the recommendations of the Presidential Emergency Board, existing LIRR employees will receive 17 percent raises over a term of 6-1/2 years. To ensure the long-term affordability of these wage increases, all employees will for the first time contribute to their health insurance costs, and new employees will have different wage progressions and pension plan contributions.”

The funding aspect important to the MTA, which was willing to meet the union’s demands so long as they were affordable.

Prendergast was quoted in the press release as saying that along with providing employees these benefits, the “long term fiscal stability of the MTA, which is exceptionally important to us,” was a primary point of the deal.

When the talks were failing, Prendergast argued the breakdown was over how to fund the new benefits. The idea the MTA proposed was to get potential new employees to contribute more.

The settlement prevents a potentially long and disruptive strike.