|At a rally of Long Island Rail Road workers, TCU National President Bob Scardelletti blasted the carrier for refusing to negotiate a fair settlement and dragging out negotiations for more than 3,000 LIRR workers.|
With a possible strike looming next month, over 3,000 workers from the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and their supporters rallied to urge the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to come to the table and accept the recommendations of Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) 245.
Click here to view video of the rally.
MTA management has rejected recommendations from two Presidential Emergency Boards, PEB 244 and PEB 245 that would end the dispute and avoid a strike that could begin July 19.
LIRR workers have been without a contract since 2010. The MTA has demanded benefit cuts and other concessions from workers.
A coalition of Republican and Democratic state and federal leaders have asked the governor to intervene and for the MTA to accept the findings of the two neutral PEBs.
TCU and all the other LIRR unions are asking for nothing more than what both neutral federal boards have already recommended. They have no interest in a work stoppage that would hurt Long Island Rail Road riders and small businesses dependent on tourism during the crucial summer months.
“Four years we’ve been negotiating, four years without a contract…it’s time for MTA to SIGN NOW…Sign or we strike!” TCU President Bob Scardelletti told the crowd at the rally. “We are all in this together and together we will win.”
“The governor needs to step up, tell the MTA to wake up and extend this cooling off period so we don’t have a crushing blow to the economy of eastern Long Island,” said SMART Transportation Division General Chairperson Anthony Simon.
Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY), along with nine other members of New York’s congressional delegation, wrote a letter to the MTA supporting the extension, and called the rejection of the presidential emergency boards “unprecedented.”
“They’re not looking for a giveaway,” said Bishop, “they’re not looking for a handout, they just want to let the collective bargaining process work. The unions have made it very clear that they would accept the results of the PEB’s ruling. The MTA refuses to accept those. We’ve got to move forward here.”
PEB 245 recommended a 17 percent raise over a six-year contract while leaving work rules and pensions alone, but MTA wants an 11 percent raise. Nearly 300,000 riders use the LIRR daily.
“They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” declared TCU Vice President and Special Assistant to the President Joel Parker at the rally. “When three renowned arbitrators on PEB 244 said Long Island Rail Road workers deserved a fair raise, MTA spit in the board’s face.
“When three different arbitrators on PEB 245 said the same thing, MTA once again put on its blindfolds and stamped its feet no. It’s time for MTA to face reality after four years of doing the same thing but expecting different results.
“No matter how many times MTA says ‘never,’ the result will not change: we will get a fair contract. We will get PEB 245,” said Parker.
“It’s been four long years fighting the MTA and Gov. Cuomo who’ve been trying to reduce our wages, take away our benefits and reduce our pension,” echoed TCU Vice President Artie Maratea. “Because you have stood strong behind your leadership our opponents have failed. The governor’s office will be held accountable for not forcing the MTA to accept the PEB and avoid a strike.”