Fed panel to mediate between MTA-LIRR

By Philip Newman

President Barack Obama has named a second panel of federal mediators in a renewed effort to bring resolution in a dispute involving thousands of Long Island Rail Road workers and the MTA.

Some 5,800 workers represented by the Sheetmetal, Air and Transportation Union, the LIRR’s largest union, voted to strike in February. LIRR unions have been without a contract since 2010.

“I appreciate that these dedicated individuals have agreed to devote their talent and years of experience working on labor management disputes to help reach a swift and smooth resolution of this issue,” Obama said in a statement March 20.

Presidential Emergency Board No. 245 will spend 60 days reviewing the final offers from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and LIRR unions and choose an offer that it finds “the most reasonable.”

In December a presidential emergency board recommended wage increases for LIRR workers of 17 percent over six years. The MTA rejected it. There was no resolution on work rules which the MTA seeks. LIRR unions could legally call a strike in July if labor and management cannot agree by then.

The LIRR carries some 300,000 passengers daily.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.