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Tuesday, May 31, 2016
MTA seeks second mediation board in LIRR contract dispute
Christina Daly/Herald
MTA officials have officially asked President Obama to appoint a second Presidential Emergency Board in resolving its longstanding contract impasse with LIRR union workers, whose action to strike could now be pushed back to July.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority officially asked President Barack Obama to appoint a second Presidential Emergency Board on March 5 in resolving its longstanding contract impasse with Long Island Rail Road union workers, who have threatened to mount a labor strike that could now be pushed back to July.

After less than a day of negotiations in Washington D.C. on Feb. 27 — in which both MTA officials and LIRR labor chiefs offered new wage proposals without reaching a settlement — MTA President Helena Williams sent a letter to President Obama Wednesday, asking him to appoint a new board of mediators that will investigate both sides of the dispute and report their findings for a resolution.

“Although the recommendations in the first Emergency Board report… did not result in a resolution of the dispute,” Williams wrote in the letter, “we are hopeful that a second Board will assist the parties in achieving an agreement.”

As stated in the Federal Railway Labor Act, the second board will present a nonbinding recommendation to both MTA officials and LIRR unions, but if both sides fail to reach a deal, LIRR workers can legally strike as early as July 19.

MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said in a statement Wednesday that the first board “ignored the enormous burden” placed on the agency’s budget in its recommendations, which initially called for a 17 percent wage increase over six years.

In order to meet those terms, Lisberg added, the MTA would have to raise fares as much as 12 percent or cut around $6 billion from its next capital budget.

“The MTA has cut almost $1 billion in recurring annual expenses,” he said. “The MTA hopes the second Presidential Emergency Board will take everyone else’s sacrifices into account as it begins this process.”


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