Anxiety grows as possible NY rail strike nears - kotanow.com- Scottsbluff Area News, Sports, and Weather

Anxiety grows as possible NY rail strike nears

Posted: Updated:
(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II). Pedestrians wait to ride a train at Jamaica station on the Long Island Rail Road Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II). Pedestrians wait to ride a train at Jamaica station on the Long Island Rail Road Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in New York.
(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II). Pedestrians wait to ride a train at Jamaica station on the Long Island Rail Road Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II). Pedestrians wait to ride a train at Jamaica station on the Long Island Rail Road Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in New York.
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig). Passengers wait to board a Long Island Railroad train at the Woodside stop in the Queens borough of New York, Tuesday, July 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig). Passengers wait to board a Long Island Railroad train at the Woodside stop in the Queens borough of New York, Tuesday, July 15, 2014.
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig). A Long Island Railroad conductor looks out the window of a train at the Woodside stop in the Queens borough of New York, Tuesday, July 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig). A Long Island Railroad conductor looks out the window of a train at the Woodside stop in the Queens borough of New York, Tuesday, July 15, 2014.
(AP Photo/Frank Eltman). Long Island Railroad passengers wait on a platform as a train pulls into the Hicksville, N.Y. station, Tuesday, July 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Frank Eltman). Long Island Railroad passengers wait on a platform as a train pulls into the Hicksville, N.Y. station, Tuesday, July 15, 2014.
  • NationalMore>>

  • Tornado slams Virginia campground; 2 dead

    Tornado slams Virginia campground; 2 dead

    Thursday, July 24 2014 7:01 PM EDT2014-07-24 23:01:51 GMT
    Albert Thorn awoke in his rental cottage Thursday to the sound of heavy rain and wind. Then, there was screaming. Within minutes, the sky turned dark, cellphones pinged with emergency messages and a tornado tore...More >>
    Albert Thorn awoke in his rental cottage Thursday to the sound of heavy rain and wind. Then, there was screaming. Within minutes, the sky turned dark, cellphones pinged with emergency messages and a tornado tore through a...More >>
  • Ohio State marching band chief fired after probe

    Ohio State marching band chief fired after probe

    Thursday, July 24 2014 6:58 PM EDT2014-07-24 22:58:55 GMT
    Ohio State University has fired the director of its celebrated marching band amid allegations he knew about and ignored "serious cultural issues" including sexual harassment.More >>
    Ohio State University fired the director of its celebrated marching band on Thursday after determining he ignored a "sexualized" culture of rituals including students being pressured to march in their underwear and...More >>
  • Ohio woman gets 32 years in forced labor case

    Ohio woman gets 32 years in forced labor case

    Thursday, July 24 2014 6:54 PM EDT2014-07-24 22:54:40 GMT
    A northeast Ohio woman convicted along with her boyfriend of enslaving a mentally disabled woman in their home for nearly two years will be sentenced in federal court in Youngstown.More >>
    An Ohio woman convicted along with her boyfriend of enslaving a mentally disabled woman in their home for nearly two years through intimidation, threats and abuse was sentenced Thursday to 32 years in federal prison, the...More >>
By FRANK ELTMAN and RACHELLE BLIDNER
Associated Press

HICKSVILLE, N.Y. (AP) - Anxiety grew among the nearly 300,000 daily riders caught in the middle of a labor dispute as a weekend strike at the nation's largest commuter railroad grew closer.

The eight unions representing Long Island Rail Road's 5,400 workers and Metropolitan Transportation Authority managers didn't negotiate on Tuesday, a day after both sides said talks aimed at averting a 12:01 a.m. Sunday strike had collapsed.

Meanwhile, the head of a commuters' group complained that riders are being forgotten by both sides amid the feud over pay and contributions to pension and health care plans. Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council Chairman Mark Epstein also said contingency plans for a walkout were providing little comfort.

The MTA last week revealed plans for school buses to take commuters from some Long Island stations to subway stops in New York City, the opening of large park-and-ride lots at Citi Field and Aqueduct racetrack, and a public relations effort aimed at encouraging people to work from home.

"They may be providing us with school buses, but we're not children," Epstein said. "Our concern is they stay at the table. No progress can be made when they're not talking. Our message is return to the table. If the difference is a gap or a gulf, it will not be getting any smaller if they do not talk to each other."

MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast said Monday there were no current plans to resume negotiations. Anthony Simon, the unions' chief negotiator, said in an interview at his Babylon, Long Island, office that he had not heard from the MTA on Tuesday.

"So what we're doing is preparing our membership and their families for the unfortunate possibility of a shutdown," he said. "I'm not too optimistic."

There is widespread consensus that a strike would have a devastating impact on both New York City and the suburbs to the east. Commuters and others were predicting hours-long traffic jams, overflowing parking lots near subway stations and a spectrum of other inconveniences.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli estimated that a strike would be a "devastating blow to a region that is still struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy and the recession" and estimated economic losses of $50 million a day.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was taking a "see how it goes" approach to the dispute.

"It often gets pushed to the brink and this is a major negotiation," Cuomo said. "The LIRR is vital to Long Island. Long Island households do not have any additional funds to pay for an increase in fares."

Commuters appeared exasperated over the looming strike. Some blamed workers for balking at paying for health care and pension costs.

Kevin Bigelow, a lawyer from West Babylon, blamed "typical union greediness. They're the most overpaid, underworked union in the country."

Lenny Mastrandea, a post-production colorist from Lindenhurst who takes the LIRR every day, said: "I pay for my health care. I think contributing to health care is fair."

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 MTA rejected both nonbinding recommendations. The emergency board's last proposal called for a 17 percent raise over six years while leaving work rules and pensions alone. The MTA offered a 17 percent wage increase over seven years and the pension and health care concessions.

"My contingency plan is to work from my kitchen table but I'm not sure how long I can pull that off," said Nancy Schess, an attorney from Syosset, getting on a train in Hicksville. "I'm very, very nervous about it. I'm very much hoping they can get it together and reach a deal."

___

Blidner reported from New York. Associated Press writers David Klepper in Albany and Michael Hill in Babylon contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KDUH. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.