We first mentioned this possibility yesterday. Last night one of the LIRR’s unions voted unanimously to strike.
Members of the Long Island Rail Road’s largest union voted 500 to 0 on Wednesday to strike, a development that helps lay the groundwork for a walkout as soon as March.
Two locals that make up the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Union voted in Massapequa, L.I. The third local in the union didn’t participate.
“The membership spoke loud and clear tonight … and said we will not sit back and be disrespected,” said Anthony Simon, SMART’s general chairman. “I have never been prouder to be their leader.”
About 6,000 LIRR workers have labored without a contract for more than three years, and talks aimed at producing a new contract have reached an impasse. Workers are angry that officials at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority — the LIRR’s parent company — won’t adopt a contract settlement proposed by a Presidential Emergency Board. It includes modest raises, but MTA bosses shot it down last month.
The emergency board, made up of neutral mediators, delivered its recommendations in December after hearing labor and management experts testify about MTA finances and various additional factors. The board concluded the MTA could afford to pay the raises it proposed — amounting to about 2.85% a year for six years — without raising fares in 2015 higher than the 4% jump already planned. It also said workers should start contributing 2% of their base pay for health care.
But the MTA is pushing for a three-year wage freeze for all of its workers unless pay increases are offset by cost savings related to productivity. The mediators didn’t endorse the work-rule changes the MTA sought to balance out potential rises for LIRR workers.
We will continue to follow this story as it unfolds in the coming month.