A strike by workers of the Long Island Rail Road, the busiest U.S. commuter-rail system, would cost as much as $50 million in lost economic activity each day, according to New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
Talks between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and unions representing about 5,400 LIRR workers broke down yesterday, less than a week before a strike deadline of 12:01 a.m. on July 20.
Shutting down the system would be “another devastating blow to a region that is still struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy and the recession,” DiNapoli, a Democrat, said in a statement, referring to the October 2012 hurricane that caused $50 billion in damage to the region.
“Both sides must go the extra mile to reach a reasonable settlement so we can avoid the costly impact of a strike and the millions of dollars in lost economic activity,” he said.
About 300,000 riders use the LIRR to travel between Long Island and Manhattan. The economic impact of a strike would be “significant” to Nassau and Suffolk counties during the peak tourism season, when “tens of thousands” of New Yorkers flock to the Hamptons and other localities along the island’s shoreline, DiNapoli said.
The MTA yesterday rejected the unions’ counteroffer to the transit system’s most recent proposal because it doesn’t include enough changes to future employee benefits, Chairman Thomas Prendergast told reporters after meeting with union leaders.
The MTA last month proposed a 17 percent wage increase over seven years for LIRR employees. The union was seeking 17 percent over six years, a position that was backed by two federal mediation boards.