A tentative deal was reached by LIRR union leaders and MTA officials Thursday that ended the threat of a devastating strike.
At a news conference Thursday, Metropolitan Transit Authority Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast and lead union negotiator Anthony Simon signed an agreement on a new contract.
"Neither side gets everything that they wanted to get but it means we've reached an agreement," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who took part in the negotiations Thursday morning in Manhattan.
"We wanted fair compensation for employees and we wanted to make sure the MTA has the funds necessary to make their repairs and keep the system safe," Cuomo said.
"The agreement reached today provides a fair and reasonable contract," said Prendergast, saying it offers "wages that our employees deserve, hardworking employees that need to be able to stay where they need to be financially, and in a way that protects the commuter as well as the long term fiscal stability of the MTA."
"This was definitely about the riders," Simon said. "We cared about the riding public, we cared about the financial stability of the railroad as well as our members and their financial stability."
Simon said the agreement put forth a fair contract that would "make sure that we continue down the road of a safe and reliable system."
He added that while it "was a long road and it was a tough road," the unions had always believed a deal was possible and thanked the leaders who helped make it possible.
Cuomo commended both men on their passion and enthusiasm. He thanked Prendergast for showing "outstanding leadership" through a "difficult and complex" debate. He also commented that Simon was a "tenacious advocate" who was neither "reckless" nor "irresponsible."
The details of the final contract were not announced during the press conference so that the 5,400 employees could be fully informed. Prendergast confirmed that the worker raise is still 17 percent but other issues were adjusted. He also said the agreement will put no additional pressure on riders and that fares will not be increased past the rate of inflation.
The final contracts must be approved by the executive boards of the eight LIRR unions and ratified by members before it is put into effect.
Cuomo said it was not just one term that caused or ended the debate but rather had a number of items that "when you're willing to reach an agreement, you will trade."
The Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council said they were "relieved" that an agreement was made in time to end the threat of a strike.
“We are encouraged by Governor Cuomo’s assurances on fares and the MTA’s ability to fund its Capital Program and look forward to reviewing additional details on the settlement and the way in which it will be funded," LIRRCC Chair Mark Epstein said. "We again appreciate the role of the Governor in reaching this agreement and helping the parties work it out so that the riders can get to work on Monday.”
“Today’s resolution of the LIRR labor dispute is great news not just for employees and commuters, but for everyone here in Suffolk,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. “The LIRR plays a critical role in our economy and avoiding a strike is critical to keep that activity going. I am very pleased that Governor Cuomo, the MTA and the LIRR unions were able to reach this agreement. I am especially thankful to Governor Cuomo for his personal involvement in this situation when we needed him most.”
“I commend Governor Cuomo for averting a Long Island Rail Road strike, protecting our commuters and safeguarding our economy," Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said. "The MTA’s long-term financial stability is critical and so is the vital transportation route they provide to Long Island commuters.”