NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) –– With 11 days left before a potential Long Island Rail Road strike, Congress said Wednesday it will not intervene to prevent the walk out of 5,400 union workers.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Thomas Prendergast met with members of the New York delegation Wednesday to see if Congress would step in if an agreement is not reached by the July 20 deadline.
But as CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported from Washington, Congress had two words for the unions, the MTA and the other officials looking to them for a solution: no dice.
“For anyone to be looking for a silver bullet from Congress, they would be making a big mistake,” said U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y. “This is a ultimately a state responsibility to resolve within the state, and we’re not going to do anything to interfere with the negotiating process whatsoever.”
King said Congress simply cannot offer a “magic solution,” and added that if Congress does get involved, many members voting on the outcome have no connection to New York.
“If it did get into Congress, then you’re talking about 435 members of Congress, most of whom have no connection whatsoever to the Long Island Rail Road — states like Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee,” he said. “The last thing that anyone from New York should want is to have people from these states writing a labor management agreement for New York state.”
Indeed, Republicans and Democrats alike spoke as one voice as they said the dispute was not Congress’ problem.
“A congressional solution is not an option,” added U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y.
They instead urged the MTA and the unions to return to the bargaining table.
“We will be demanding that the union present a counter offer tomorrow. We are demanding that the MTA be at that meeting and receive that counter offer. We are demanding that both the MTA and the unions negotiate and get this solved quickly,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y.
Talks were scheduled to resume on Thursday at noon. The two sides held negotiations on Tuesday, but failed to reach an agreement.
“They had a three-hour meeting yesterday between the MTA and the unions that the MTA president chose not attend,” Rep. Israel told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond. “And now being here in Washington D.C., I think is misguided and going in the wrong direction.”