Long Island Rail Road union leaders, angered by the MTA's publicizing of its latest contract offer before formally discussing it with them, are considering not showing at a planned bargaining session Friday, the unions' lead negotiator said Wednesday.
Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Union general chairman Anthony Simon said in a statement that the MTA "continued its four-year pattern of bargaining in bad faith" Tuesday when it held a news conference to detail its latest contract proposal. The offer gives current LIRR workers the 17 percent raises they are demanding, but spreads them out over seven years, instead of the six they have sought, and requires concessions involving future LIRR employees' wages and benefits.
Simon says the offer is worth less than half of the value of the contract recommended by two separate federal mediation boards and demanded by the unions.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority formally sent the proposal to the unions Monday and scheduled a meeting to discuss it on Friday.
"Instead of sitting down with the only people who can make a deal, the MTA chose the route of cheap political grandstanding," Simon said. "It's painfully clear that the MTA is not serious about negotiating a settlement."
Without a new deal in place, more than 5,000 LIRR workers could legally walk off their jobs on July 20.
Speaking at an agency board meeting Wednesday morning in Manhattan, MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast said MTA negotiators "are doing everything we can to avoid a work stoppage." He added that, under the new contract proposal, LIRR workers would remain the highest-paid railroad workers in the country.
"[We] remain hopeful that we will reach a deal," Prendergast said.