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Unions: Prepare for LIRR Strike

Unions: Prepare for LIRR Strike
Talks with the MTA break down. Unions plan to strike Sunday.

Unions negotiating with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Monday that talks aimed at avoiding a walkout at the nation's largest commuter railroad have collapsed.

Anthony Simon, the workers' chief negotiator, said the eight Long Island Rail Road unions are now proceeding with strike plans.

MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast planned to comment on the talks later Monday at MTA headquarters in Manhattan.

The unions representing 5,400 workers have said they intend to strike unless an agreement is reached by July 20. Simon said it appears a strike is likely.

A strike could affect 300,000 daily riders, most of whom travel in and out of New York City from Long Island.

Last week, several members of the New York House delegation in Washington met with the head of the railroad's organization, telling him that the two sides should not count on Congress to resolve the long-running contract dispute.

The railroad's unions have been working without a contract since 2010. President Barack Obama appointed two emergency boards to help resolve the dispute, but the railroad's parent organization rejected both non-binding recommendations, and the unions voted to authorize a strike.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo indicated previously that he would not intervene in the dispute.