LIRR union strike closer to reality
WOODBURY - The union for Long Island Railroad workers says the possibility of a strike is becoming more of a reality, after working without a contract for nearly four years.
Union officials say they are ready to walk off the job if MTA officials do not come to the table soon.
Recommendations made by a board of mediators appointed by President Barack Obama gave workers a 2.5 percent wage increase, but rejected the MTA's demands for a wage freeze and other concessions.
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MTA officials say they cannot accept the presidential board's recommendations because of the financial impact. On Wednesday, the MTA board approved a seven-year MTA police contract, which calls for annual raises totaling 17 percent.
"They have the ability to pay,” said Anthony Simon, of the United Transportation Union. “The Presidential Emergency Board said the MTA has the ability to pay without raising fares."
Union leaders say that as early as March 21, workers will legally be allowed to strike.
MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast says because of some concessions, the police contract will achieve the same three years of cost freezes the MTA is asking for from the LIRR unions. He says the MTA must be ready for a potential strike if collective bargaining fails.