By Philip Newman
MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast Tuesday asked Congress whether it intends to intervene in the labor dispute involving the Long Island Rail Road and its workers, whose union has threatened to strike as early as July 20.
Prendergast said the union’s leadership has been unwilling to work constructively with the MTA to resolve the dispute because they believe Congress will intervene.
The MTA chairman told Congress in a letter that while the MTA has made three increasingly lucrative contract offers to the unions, the unions have insisted they will strike unless the MTA meets all their demands. He pointed out that the labor negotiations are being conducted under the Federal Railway Labor Act.
The letter was sent to Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ill.) Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
“Leaders of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have three options under the law as I understand it,” Prendergast said.
1.Pass a resolution calling for an extension of the cooling-off period and prevent an LIRR union strike.
2. Allow a LIRR union strike to proceed, then pass a resolution ending the strike after some period of time and implement a settlement or require mediation, arbitration, or require mediation, arbitration or another fact-finding hearing.
3. Allow a LIRR union strike and take no action
The LIRR carries 300,000 passengers daily.