WASHINGTON - Congress has told the MTA that it will not intervene in the looming Long Island Rail Road strike that is set to take place in 11 days.
MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast went to Washington, D.C. to ask leaders of Congress whether they intend to intervene in the ongoing labor dispute.
Contract negotiations went on for three hours yesterday in Manhattan with no resolution.
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Nearly 5,500 LIRR union employees are threatening to walk off the job as early as July 20.
Some state lawmakers are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to get involved in the talks even though he said he will not. Congress is legally able to stop a strike because the railroad is covered by federal transportation law. However, after the meeting today, it declared it will not.
Meanwhile, the MTA has launched a so-called "communications blitz" to inform the public about its plans for a possible strike.
The MTA is running ads in all local newspapers and radio stations, as well as sending alerts through emails, text messages and social media.
In a statement, Gov. Cuomo thanked the congressional delegation for making their message clear.
“The unions' false belief that Congress would step in to mandate a settlement was a major impediment to any real progress,” said Cuomo. “With this obstacle removed, it is now clear that the only path to resolution is at the bargaining table between the MTA and the unions, and they should proceed in good faith.”
Rep. Tim Bishop (D – Southampton) hopes negotiations can continue as early as tomorrow.
“We are urging those negotiating sessions continue nonstop if necessary, from now until July 19,” he said.
Union leaders said the MTA was playing "Russian roulette" and their counter offer at Tuesday’s meeting was "disrespected.”
Both sides have agreed to meet at the bargaining table tomorrow at noon in Manhattan.