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After negotiations crumbled in less than an hour Monday, Long Island Rail Road officials, unions, and patrons are preparing for a devastating strike.
The MTA's offer gives current LIRR employees a 17 percent wage increase, an average $22,000 retroactive payment, 2 percent healthcare contributions out of salaries, and no changes to pension contributions or work rules. They say to afford their offer, they will ask future LIRR employees to pay 4 percent to healthcare, contribute to pensions throughout their careers at LIRR, and work more years to reach top pay.
“There was a long distance between the offer we have up on the table and their willingness and ability to be able to respond to that and close this gap,” MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast told CBS Monday.
LIRR unions deemed MTA's proposal unacceptable. Unions asked for their raises to span six years and allow for first-time employee healthcare contributions and no changes to pensions and work rules, Newsday reported. The MTA has asked for a seven-year period for raises while asking that future workers make "health care contributions twice the amount of current workers, doubling how long it takes to reach top pay, and having them permanently contribute toward pensions," the report says. Current workers contribute for 10 years.
LIRR union workers have worked without a contract for four years.
The impact of the strike could send economic shockwaves through a region still recovering from Hurricane Sandy. New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli estimated a possible loss of $50 million per day during the strike based on ridership, census, and economic data.
“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.
Who is to blame in the MTA vs. LIRR battle? Should unions accept the terms the MTA has offered? Should the MTA make a better offer? How will you be impacted by a strike? Vote in the poll above and give us your thoughts in the comments below.