Washington, D.C. - (WALK) The Long Island Rail Road and its unions are in a 60-day "cooling off" period prior to a possible strike, after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority rejected a proposal by a federal board to end a years-long contract dispute.
At a meeting with the National Mediation Board in Washington D.C., Wednesday, MTA negotiators turned down a proposal by the Presidential Emergency board, a group empanelled by President Obama in November.
Eight unions representing 5,600 of 6,000 LIRR employees have been working without a contract since June 2010. If there is no agreement by July, the unions would be legally authorized to strike, according to provisions of the Federal Railway Act. If a majority of LIRR unions decide to strike, it would be the first such work shutdown in 20 years.
The Presidential Emergency Board in December suggested the LIRR give workers raises averaging 2.83 percent over the next six years, a sum the MTA says it cannot afford.
The MTA has reportedly proposes LIRR unions accept a three-year freeze on labor expenses: money for raises would come from union concessions.
Logo: National Mediation Board