NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — With a possible strike looming next month, Long Island Rail Road union officials are threatening to skip the next scheduled negotiating session with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, arguing the agency is not bargaining in good faith and is guilty of “cheap political grandstanding.”
The MTA said Tuesday it has offered a 17 percent wage increase over seven years. Its earlier offer called for an 11 percent hike over six years.
The LIRR union’s lead negotiator, Anthony Simon, said the MTA’s latest offer is unacceptable. The unions are pushing for a 17 percent increase over six years.
As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported, union leaders also claim the MTA’s proposal was revealed in the public before it went to them.
But MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast said that’s not true.
“We’ve discussed it with them informally and formally,” he insisted during a news conference at MTA headquarters in Midtown on Wednesday.
Prendergast said the agency has be willing to compromise, but the unions have refused to budge from their initial position.
“We’ve tried to craft it with this proposal (that it) is giving them what they want in terms of the wage increases,” Prendergast said.
The MTA chief said he doesn’t understand the problem, noting that LIRR workers are the highest-paid railroad employees in the country. He said the agency also must protect commuters from excessive fare hikes.
The MTA’s latest offer also seeks concessions including requiring current employees to contribute 2 percent of regular pay toward health care costs. Currently, LIRR workers don’t contribute toward their health insurance.
A strike could come as early as July 20, affecting 300,000 daily riders.
“We’re at a point now where we have to get to the table, and that’s what we’re saying to them,” Prendergast said.
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