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MTA to negotiate with Long Island Rail Road union

HOST INTRO: Good news for commuters: the Long Island Rail Road union is backing off their threat to strike in March. That’s because the MTA promised to come back to the bargaining table. The MTA says if negotiations don’t work next week, they’ll be asking an emergency mediation board to look at both sides and make a new recommendation. It will be the second board in half a year that’s tried to help them reach a settlement. Katie Toth reports.

Concerned about a potential March 21st strike that would cripple Long Island’s transportation system, 12 congressmen signed a letter to put pressure on the MTA this Wednesday. It worked.

ANTHONY SIMON: Every elected official here today, it’s because of you that we are here saying we will not strike on March 21st they will come to their senses and we don’t strike at all. (.10)

That’s Anthony Simon, a union representative. Both parties go to Washington for more mediation this week. If that doesn’t work, the MTA now says, they’ll ask a presidential emergency board to take another look at their positions. And once that board gets involved, a Long Island Railroad strike won’t be legal until July.

It started in December, when after negotiations came to a standstill, the federal government called together the first presidential emergency board to mediate between both parties. “Give the unions a three percent raise, over three years,” the board said.

But the MTA said that would be too expensive, they said they’ll have to cut capital spending and increase fares by even more than they’d already planned.. No raises.

If this second board can’t come up with a compromise, then strike action will become legal by July 20th.

JOHN SAMUELSON: We’re going to fight this fight as if it’s our own livelihood.

John Samuelsen, of transit workers union local 100, which represents bus drivers  and maintenance staff on subways across the city. He says that other MTA workers will respect the picket line.

SAMUELSON: We absolutely will refuse to work on the Long Island Railroad. We will support the strike.

If the summer strike goes forward, that could mean a hot, crowded, trainless commute.

Katie Toth, Columbia Radio News.


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