With a possible transit strike just three days away, Long Island Rail Road unions and the Metropolitan Transit Authority may resume negotiations.
After a strong plea from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, unions and officials will reportedly return to the bargaining table Wednesday afternoon.
"We must do everything we can to prevent Long Islanders from being held hostage by a strike that would damage the regional economy and be highly disruptive for commuters," Cuomo said in a statement Wednesday morning. "Both the MTA and the LIRR unions need to put the interests of New Yorkers first by returning to the table today and working continuously to avoid a strike."
Both sides said they agreed and would return to talks Wednesday afternoon.
"As Governor Cuomo said, a strike would disrupt families and business across the New York metropolitan region, and the only way to prevent a strike is for both sides to negotiate a fair and reasonable settlement at the bargaining table," the MTA said in a statement, according to Newsday. "We have asked the LIRR unions to resume negotiations immediately."
"The governor asked us to come back and I'm preparing to do that right now," union spokesman Anthony Simon told NY Daily News. "We've always had a willingness to continue negotiations with the MTA and rectify this situation before it is too late."
Both sides met for about 45 minutes before parting without a resolution on Monday.
The MTA has deployed a contingency plan to use in the event of a strike that would include buses, ferries, park and ride locations, and driving plans.
Meanwhile, more lawmakers and groups are either taking sides in the debacle or pleading for a resolution.
The Long Island Federation of Labor threw support behind unions and said "It is essential to all of us that negotiations reach a successful conclusion," in a statement Wednesday.
"It is time the MTA stops gambling with the local economy and reaches an agreement that reflects the terms of two independent Presidential Emergency Boards…The MTA’s intransigence is risky and impacts all of us – workers, small businesses and government," they wrote, adding they would assist unions with whatever they needed in the event of a strike.
“The impact of shuttering North America’s largest commuter railroad should not be downplayed; the MTA itself has said no contingency plan can fully replace LIRR service," State Sen. Jack Martins said in a statement. "Long Island’s transportation infrastructure will be paralyzed. Long Islanders deserve to know that every effort is being made to keep the LIRR on track.”
In Suffolk County, Assemb. Edward Hennessey, D-Medford, has blasted the MTA's current contingency plan as well, saying it "does not do enough to mitigate the impact on commuters."
"Under the plan, the hardworking men and women of Brookhaven would only have access to two overcrowded bus stations, one in Deer Park and the other in Ronkonkoma," Hennessey said last Friday. "This is unacceptable. Over 17,000 commuters already pass through the Ronkonkoma station on a daily basis, and it’s simply not feasible to overcrowd the station any more. Should LIRR workers go on strike, additional stations must be available to provide commuters with adequate options.”