Obama appoints board to handle possible LIRR strike

The board is pushing for the MTA to settle the three-and-a-half-year-long contract dispute with LIRR unions. (3/21/14)

WOODBURY - The White House is weighing in on the Long Island Rail Road strike threat that could strand hundreds of thousands of Long Island commuters.

President Obama has appointed a second emergency board to handle the impending LIRR strike. The board is pushing for the MTA to settle the three-and-a-half-year-long contract dispute with LIRR unions.

The strike could have started as early as Friday, but it's now been pushed back to July.

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If workers do walk off the job, officials say 300,000 riders will have to find a different way into the city every day.

This is the second time in five months that President Obama has assembled a board of mediators charged with the task of helping the two sides find common ground.

Back in December, mediators recommended about a 17 percent raise for LIRR workers over a six year period. But in a statement to News 12, the MTA says the board's first suggestion would have resulted in massive rate hikes for customers or cuts to security measures.

Each side has 60 days to submit a final settlement offer. At that point, the board will review those offers and submit a new recommendation to the President.

The board's report is not binding, but the White House says the side whose offer is not selected will lose certain benefits if a work stoppage does occur.

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