Residents and local elected officials breathed a collective sigh of relief last week after a potentially crippling Long Island Rail Road strike was averted. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Long Island Rail Road unions signed an agreement on July 17.
“We have settled a four-year dispute,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference at his New York City office that day.
MTA Chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast said the two sides had reached a compromise that is “fair and reasonable.”
Union leader Anthony Simon thanked Cuomo for stepping in. “This was about the riders,” he said, calling the contract “fair.” Simon said it had been “a long road, a tough road,” but that officials had reached a “ratifiable agreement.”
Cuomo said there had been a “very wide gulf” that “obviously has been crossed.”
The exact terms of the agreement will not be released until the union membership ratifies it, but the six-and-a-half-year agreement appears, from what Cuomo and Prendergast said at the news conference, to be based on the recommendations of two presidential boards, with methods of funding the contract that both sides accepted. Cuomo said that the funding does not involve fare increases or the deferral of needed infrastructure improvements.
“The LIRR plays a critical role in the structure of the downstate economy,” said State Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont). “A strike or proposed fare increase would have crippled commuters, slowed Long Island’s economic recovery and resulted in driving families out of the region. I commend Governor Cuomo for his leadership in averting a possible strike, as well as settling a four-year contract dispute between the MTA and the LIRR unions. I look forward to working with the MTA to promote transparency and financial efficiency without the constant need to increase fares.”