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MTA and LIRR workers reach deal to avoid strike – QNS.com

MTA and LIRR workers reach deal to avoid strike

By Alex Robinson

With a little help from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the MTA and Long Island Rail Road unions have reached a tentative deal to ward off an impending strike, officials said.

“It’s my pleasure to announce today we have settled a four-year dispute dealing with the LIRR labor unions and in agreement with the railroad and the MTA,” Cuomo said Thursday afternoon. “This is a compromise by both parties after four long years. Compromise by definition means that neither side gets everything they wanted to get, but it means we have reached an agreement and can move forward.”

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and LIRR union representatives hammered out the deal at Cuomo’s office in Manhattan Thursday morning to avert 5,400 workers from walking off the job Sunday.

The two sides had resumed talks Wednesday at Cuomo’s request after deliberations broke down Monday.

“It required a compromise on the part of all parties because you might not be able to achieve exactly what you want, but in the spirit of getting a deal that is fair and reasonable, takes care of the needs of the employees, protects the commuters and MTA’s longterm financial stability — that is what is required,” MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast said.

Officials were tight-lipped over details of the deal, but said it included a 17 percent wage increase over 6 1/2 years. The agreement would also require all employees to contribute to health care costs and new employees would pay more for pension and benefit costs as well, officials said.

“This definitely is a fair contract,” said Anthony Simon, the union representative in the negotiations. “It’s a compromise by all parties to make sure that we continue down the road of a safe and reliable system.”

Prendergast said the additional costs from wage increases would not affect fares.

The contract still needs to be ratified by the unions Aug. 15 and approved by the MTA board in September.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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