Tag Archives: LIRR strike

LIRR strike averted: MTA and unions reach deal


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Sara Touzard

Updated 2:40 p.m.

MTA officials and LIRR unions came to a tentative agreement Thursday, avoiding a workers’ strike that would have stranded 300,000 commuters daily. 

Union negotiators and MTA representatives worked through Wednesday night on the deal, and talks continued with Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday.

“Next week if there was a strike it would have been a really problematic situation of the highest level,” Cuomo said. “So this is very good news.”  

LIRR workers will see a 17 percent wage increase over six and a half years with the new agreement. The MTA wanted a 17 percent wage increase over seven years, while the union desired it over six years. The deal settled the impasse between both sides and will allow the MTA to pay for the salary bump while not increasing fares for riders. 

Through the agreement, the transit workers will contribute a percent of their wages toward health care costs, which they currently do not, and new employees will have different wage progressions and pension plan contributions. 

The agreement still needs to be approved by the eight Long Island Rail Road unions’ executive boards, ratified by the members and approved by the MTA board.

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Cuomo steps into MTA, LIRR union negotiations


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo


Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined negotiations between the MTA and Long Island Rail Road union officials just days before a looming strike deadline.

“The possible LIRR strike would be highly disruptive to the people and economy of Long Island, Cuomo said. “The parties returned to the negotiating table yesterday morning at my request. Late yesterday, when the conversations had not been fruitful, I began participating in them directly. Those conversations proceeded until late into the night.”

Both sides were scheduled to meet at the governor’s Manhattan office at 10 a.m. Thursday to continue discussions, according to Cuomo.

“Time is very short. We are less than 48 hours from the point at which the railroad would commence closing procedures. I want to make sure I have done everything I can possibly do to avert a strike,” he said.

LIRR union lead negotiator Anthony Simon was optimistic that a deal could be reach before the 12:01 a.m. Sunday strike deadline now that Cuomo has joined the negotiation table, Newsday reported.

“He’s ready to get this resolved,” Simon said, according to Newsday.

 

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Queens businesses brace for LIRR strike impact


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Ahmed Iftikhar drives from Mineola with his wife to the Bayside LIRR station every day except Sundays to set up his newsstand and open at 5 a.m.

He serves coffee, snacks, newspapers and magazines to a portion of the 4,000 daily commuters who use the station for 14 hours, making an average of $200 per day in sales, he said. Each month he pays $3,450 for rent and about $300 in utilities.

The potential LIRR work stoppage, which could start on Sunday, would not only strand thousands of commuters, but also hurt small businesses in Queens like Iftikhar’s newsstand, which depends on LIRR service for customers.

“If they do the strike, I’ll be sad,” Iftikhar said. “I’ll be very upset. What would we do in the future?”

While some LIRR stations in Queens, such as Jamaica, which has subway lines nearby, wouldn’t be as affected, others that depend primarily on the LIRR service could feel an impact, businesses and community leaders said. Businesses, such as the deli and café near the Douglaston LIRR station, stand to lose potential customers in the 2,000 daily commuters at the station.

“Of course no one is happy about it,” said Dorothy Matinale, president of the Douglaston Village Chamber of Commerce.

The manager of Kelly’s Car Service, located near the Bayside station, said if the strike occurs they expect road traffic to be slow for further trips, as the MTA expects more drivers to be on the road.

“Going into Manhattan would be impossible,” manager Richard Pearlman said.

Pearlman couldn’t anticipate how the strike would affect business, but said the car service is thinking of offering trips directly to subway stations on Main Street, although plans have not been finalized.

While the unions and the MTA continue to negotiate, Iftikhar hopes they’ll patch it up soon.

“It’s a little problem,” he said. “If they solve it, it’ll be nice for everyone.”

 

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DiNapoli: LIRR strike could cost $50M a day


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Map courtesy the MTA


It could be a total lose-lose situation.

Not only will 300,000 riders be denied LIRR service in the event of a strike, but the work stoppage could cost up to $50 million each day in economic activity, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said Tuesday.

“A LIRR strike would cause headaches and financial hardships for riders and businesses. It would also be another devastating blow to a region that is still struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy and the recession,” DiNapoli said. “Both sides must go the extra mile to reach a reasonable settlement so we can avoid the costly impact of a strike and the millions of dollars in lost economic activity.”

DiNapoli said the strike would impact people who use the railroad to connect to attractions in the city, such as Broadway shows, restaurants and shopping. It would also deter people from reaching spots on Long Island such as beaches, golf courses and wineries.

Despite the gloomy economic forecast, there seems to be no sign of an agreement forthcoming.

On Monday talks again derailed between the eight unions that represent the LIRR workers and MTA officials, which prompted union lead negotiator Anthony Simon to say that “the strike will begin 12:01 a.m. this Sunday.”

MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast said that there is a “gulf” between the transportation agency and the unions and “until they’re ready to move there’s no reason to have negotiations.”

The MTA will release an advertisement on Wednesday on radio stations and newspapers asking the unions “when is enough, enough?”

 

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LIRR unions: Strike will happen on Sunday


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Sara Touzard


Talks once again broke down between the MTA and LIRR union representatives on Monday and with no further negotiations scheduled, the looming workers’ strike will occur, according to union officials.  

“I regret to report that negotiations have collapsed with MTA, and all eight unions are now proceeding with strike plans for July 20,” said Anthony Simon, the lead negotiator representing the unions. “The strike will begin 12:01 a.m. this Sunday.”

About 5,400 workers are expected to go on strike starting on July 20, leaving 300,000 riders stranded daily.

The MTA released a contingency plan on Friday to address options for thousands of riders.

MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast said on Monday that there is a “gulf” between the agency and the unions, which stems from the payment of employee health benefits.

LIRR workers would see a 17 percent wage increase over seven years in the MTA’s latest offer, but be required to pay toward health care costs, which employees currently don’t.

Also, future employees would pay higher rates toward health care and pensions than current ones. The unions argue that the deal would hurt future workers and they maintain that they want 17 percent raises stretched over six years.

Prendergast said that the unions haven’t budged at all during negotiations.

“We have moved three times,” he said. “Until they’re ready to move there’s no reason to have negotiations.”

 

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What to do if there is an LIRR strike


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Metropolitan Transportation Authority


Subways, shuttle buses, and even ferries– the MTA is pulling out all the stops to supplement LIRR service in case 5,400 workers strike starting on July 20.

As contract negotiations with unions continue to fall apart and the impending LIRR strike draws closer each day, the MTA released its contingency plan Friday to address the 300,000 riders that would be stranded daily with the loss of the train service.

Most of the MTA’s plans focus on Long Island customers, but there are resources and tips for riders from Queens and other boroughs.

There will be 4,000 free, secured parking spots at Citi Field and an additional 3,000 spots at Aqueduct Racetrack, where drivers can drop their cars and then take the No. 7 or A trains to work. Through social media and digital platforms, such as Twitter and a LIRR mobile app, agency officials plan to update riders on how many spots are available in the lots and traffic conditions.

The transportation agency also hired 350 school buses, which lack air condition, to shuttle riders from stations in Long Island to the No. 7 train near Citi Field, the A train in Howard Beach, and also the M and R train station on Woodhaven Boulevard. The buses will run from Long Island into Queens between 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. and return to Long Island from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

There will also be ferry rides that can carry 1,000 passengers per day from Glen Cove to 34th Street in Manhattan on 40 minute rides. But the MTA warns that parking near to the ferry is very limited.

The MTA is encouraging riders to telecommute if they can work from home. According to officials, about 18,000 workers already plan to do so.

Through its free lots and shuttle buses, the transportation agency estimates it can handle about 15,000 passengers daily, more than double the 7,000 passengers daily from the 1994 LIRR strike contingency plan.

“When the LIRR unions went on strike in 1994, Long Islanders had very limited options. There were no park-and-ride lots, no ferries, no real-time monitoring, no telecommuting,” said MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast. “Today, the MTA has a far stronger, more robust, multifaceted plan. Working with the state and elected officials from across Long Island and the city of New York, we are providing more shuttle buses, thousands of parking spots near subway stations, a ferry service, real-time traffic management and real-time parking monitoring.”

The MTA doesn’t yet know how much per day the contingency plan will cost, and officials said they hope not to have to use it.

For more details on the plan, click here.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Sunny to partly cloudy. High 29. Winds W at 10 to 15 mph. Friday night: Clear to partly cloudy. Low around 20F. Winds W at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Gamin-Wind & Stone

Flushing Town Hall is holding a Gamin-Wind & Stone event at 8 p.m. Gamin is one of the most celebrated piri, taepyeongso (Korean traditional oboe family) and saengwhang (ancient wind-blow instrument) players today. Wind & Stone is a World Music project by Gamin and Satoshi Takeishi (drummer, percussionist, and arranger) presenting both traditional and contemporary sounds of Korean music. Admission is $15 for members and $10 for students. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

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