MTA Proposes 17% Wage Increase to Avert LIRR Strike

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is proposing a 17 percent wage increase over seven years to help avert a strike by workers at the Long Island Rail Road, the busiest U.S. commuter train system.

MTA officials will meet with union leaders representing about 5,000 LIRR employees on June 27, Anita Miller, the state agency’s director of labor relations, said yesterday at a press briefing in Manhattan. Its previous proposal was 11 percent over six years, Miller said.

“The MTA recognizes how paralyzing a strike would be to the ordinary Long Islander, which is why we’ve stepped up and we’ve come up with a proposal that we think is within everyone’s power to help avert a strike,” Miller said. “We ask the unions to do the same.”

Anthony Simon, leader of a group of LIRR union workers, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the MTA’s proposal.

The agency had planned on LIRR labor negotiations to cost about $326 million. That amount would increase under the new proposal. To help pay for the rising labor costs, the MTA is proposing that current workers contribute 2 percent of their salary toward health-insurance, up from zero. New employees would allocate 4 percent to their health insurance.

A strike may happen as soon as July 20, affecting about 300,000 daily riders, said Adam Lisberg, an MTA spokesman. The rail service brings commuters from Long Island into Manhattan’s Pennsylvania Station.

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