Congress refuses to intervene in LIRR talks

By Philip Newman

MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast went to Washington, D.C., Wednesday seeking help from Congress in the negotiations with Long Island Rail Road workers, but several lawmakers cautioned him not to count on them.

“At this time, Congress is not an option,” U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Manhattan) said.

Several other congressional members concurred that Congress was not the solution to the logjam at the negotiating table.

Most of those at the nearly hour-long meeting urged the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to go back to the negotiations, which apparently are to resume as early as Thursday.

The Tuesday session ended without movement.

“The two sides must now burn the midnight oil,” U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) said.

Among lawmakers at the meeting were U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica).

In a statement Tuesday, Prendergast said the MTA had improved its offers numerous times without the LIRR workers increasing theirs.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo thanked the New York delegation in the House “for making it abundantly clear today that Congress will not act to bring about a labor settlement at the Long Island Rail Road.”

He said the union’s belief that Congress would step in to resolve the impasse “was a major impediment to any real progress” and both sides should get back to the table.

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