The Long Island Rail Road is on pace to close out the year, once again, as the busiest commuter rail system in the United States — this time by a much wider margin over Metro-North than last year.
Transportation experts attributed the LIRR’s widening lead over its sister MTA railroad to the recovering economy, LIRR’s investments in service, and a spate of safety-related incidents on Metro-North.
Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road won approval from a committee of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board of Directors on Monday, Nov. 17, 2014 to award contracts totaling $34.6 million for the purchase of inward- and outward-facing cameras in the cabs of their rail fleets.
A total of 2,064 rail cars and locomotives will be outfitted under the base, 36-month contract, which the full MTA Board will consider for approval on Wednesday, Nov. 19.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority yesterday (Sept. 23) published a proposed $32 billion, four-year capital program designed to invest in safety and reliability measures for its subways, commuter railroads, buses, bridges and tunnels.
Proposed for 2015 through 2019, the program would “renew, enhance and expand” the MTA network, which moves 8.7 million riders each day, authority officials said in a press release.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Blue Ribbon Panel studying safety and maintenance practices at its three railroads yesterday announced 29 recommendations to improve operations and safety.
Created a year ago after a series of safety-related incidents at MTA Metro-North Railroad, Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and New York City Transit (NYCT), the panel identified Metro-North’s safety culture as an area of particular concern, noting the railroad’s emphasis on on-time performance did not leave employees with enough time to perform necessary track inspections and maintenance work, MTA officials said in a press release.
The members of Long Island Rail Road General Committee of Adjustment GO 505 have ratified a new agreement with LIRR management by a 97 percent margin, General Chairperson Anthony Simon reports.
It is the largest margin of approval for a contract in the general committee’s history.
Simon also said the approval rate for the eight-union coalition withstood together in bargaining with the LIRR was 95 percent.
Simon thanked SMART General President Joseph Nigro, General Secretary-Treasurer Joe Sellers and Transportation Division President John Previsich for their financial and material support and counsel.
“This shows with the support of our International and our membership, there is nothing we can not accomplish. I thank President Nigro for giving me the opportunity to speak at the first SMART Convention and for recognizing our delegates and our members on LIRR,” Simon said.
“This truly shows the unity in our merged unions and what we can achieve standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity.
“A special ‘thank you’ goes to my entire committee for there tireless work in such a huge fight. My committee is the best committee I could ever ask for and I am very fortunate to have this team.
“To our members, I asked you to stand with me and trust me and said I would fight to the end to get them a contract they deserve and earned, and our members stepped up, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.
“I will never stop fighting for the most professional and hard working members.”
The vote concluded more than four years of battling with New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority during a difficult and highly publicized contract dispute.
The MTA had been seeking net zero wage increases, major pension reform, large health care contributions, work rule give-backs and excessive concessions for new hires.
The settlement provided in excess of 18 percent of compounded wage increases over six-and-a-half years. Certification pay was achieved in the amount of $10 per day worked as a conductor and a modest two percent health and welfare contribution was accepted, based on a straight week’s pay. Minor adjustments were made for new hires that extended their requirement to pay four percent toward their pension for five additional years and their current wage progression was extended by just two years. Not a single work rule was compromised.
After over four years of battling with New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority during a difficult and highly publicized contract dispute, SMART Transportation Division members have prevailed on Long Island.
The MTA was seeking net zero wage increases, major pension reform, large health care contributions, work rule give-backs and excessive concessions for new hires, but SMART leaders on Long Island had a much different agenda. They were determined to fight for their membership to obtain well-deserved raises and provide modest compromises to help fund the MTA pension system and the New York State Health Insurance Plan.
Lead negotiator for the MTA unions, Transportation Division GO 505 General Chairperson Anthony Simon, was a man on a mission. Simon worked tirelessly in achieving the political support and history necessary to prepare for the battle of a lifetime for railroaders on Long Island through the use of two separate Presidential Emergency Boards. Achieving two labor-favorable boards was key in this long, down and dirty battle with the MTA. The unions on Long Island were days away from a strike that they were very prepared to implement if needed.
Simon and his committee stood toe to toe with the MTA in a fight that eventually required New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo to engage with Simon in unprecedented, overnight negotiations which, in turn, avoided a devastating strike on the busiest commuter railroad in the nation.
While things became heated and the MTA pulled out all the stops by utilizing the media against union workers, Simon continually pledged to the public through his own media outlets his loyalty and dedication to the riders of the system.
“From day one, we made it clear that labor did not want to inconvenience the public and did everything in its power to avoid a strike,” Simon said.
As frustrated as both union members and members in the community were becoming as the potential strike loomed, Simon and SMART leaders maintained the highest level of professionalism possible.
At the end of the day, a deal was settled that provided in excess of 18 percent of compounded wage increases over six-and-a-half years. Certification pay was achieved in the amount of $10 per day worked as a conductor and a modest two percent health and welfare contribution was accepted, based on a straight week’s pay. Minor adjustments were made for new hires that extended their requirement to pay four percent toward their pension for five additional years and their current wage progression was extended by just two years. Not a single work rule was compromised for anyone.
“I have been working under Anthony’s leadership since 2006 and have known him for over 20 years. He is an absolute tenacious leader who works harder than anyone I have ever met in my life,” GO 505 Vice General Chairperson Vinnie Tessitore said.
Simon and the entire SMART membership on Long Island Rail Road thank General President Joe Nigro and Transportation Division President John Previsich, along with their team, for their endless support through this process. The committee on Long Island Rail Road would also thank the entire SMART membership across the nation for their well wishes and support. The outcome of this labor dispute exemplifies what the labor movement is all about.
A tentative deal has been reached to avoid a strike at the nation’s largest commuter railroad, sparing hundreds of thousands of commuters the headache of finding alternate routes to and from the city, Gov. Cuomo announced Thursday.
The agreement, which still must be ratified by union members, settles a four-year contract dispute between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the eight unions that represent the Long Island Rail Road’s 5,400 workers.
NEW YORK – With a Long Island Rail Road strike potentially set to start Sunday, the unions and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority returned to the bargaining table Wednesday and talked for several hours without reaching a deal.
But both sides were set to work through the night remotely as they went off to hotels, and were set to return to the bargaining table at 9 a.m. Thursday (July 17).
International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Long Island Rail Road General Chairperson Anthony Simon has issued the following statement on the deteriorating labor situation at the commuter railroad:
“I regret to report that negotiations have collapsed with New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and all eight unions are now proceeding with strike plans for July 20.
“MTA rejected the counter offer we presented last Thursday (July 10). It presented no counter proposal. It continues to insist that the unions agree to a contract worth less than the value of the compromise recommendations of two Presidential Emergency Boards 244 and 245.
“MTA has clearly decided that provoking a strike is the course of action it intends to pursue. No further negotiations are scheduled.
“The strike will begin at 12:01 a.m. this Sunday (July 20). Riders should be aware that service will begin winding down well before then, perhaps as early as Wednesday (July 16), as the railroad needs to secure its equipment.
“The strike will be limited to Long Island Rail Road. It will not affect Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, Metro-North Railroad or PATH rail operations. Joint entrances will not be picketed.
Make no mistake about it. The timing of this strike, with its devastating impact on Long Island’s summer season, is MTA’s decision. The unions repeated our offer to agree to the requests of the New York Congressional delegation, area residents and businesses to delay the strike until September. MTA would not agree.
“The onus of this deadlock is solely on MTA. Two boards of renowned and experienced arbitrators have recommended a fair compromise settlement. We are willing to accept the recommendations. MTA is not. MTA admitted to us that they know that historically, the PEB recommendations are the basis for settlement. They told us they understand that the only way they can break this historical precedent is to take a strike. That is the course that they have chosen.”
Anthony Simon, SMART LIRR GO 505 General Chairperson and Union Coalition spokesperson
A potential strike by the unions representing Long Island Rail Road workers would be a “terrible failure by both the unions and the MTA,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Wednesday.
MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast was in Washington on Wednesday to meet with the state’s congressional delegation assessing the chances of Congress intervening and attempting to stop a potential strike. But when the meeting concluded, members of the delegation said congressional delegation was unlikely, according to multiple reports.
ALBANY, N.Y. – As the labor dispute at the Long Island Rail Road heads toward its final innings, some officials are beginning to look to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, whom they see as the Mariano Rivera of political closers.
“His track record on these matters is very good,” said Lee Miringoff, a political science professor and director of the Marist College poll. “He seems to know where his goals are and know where the votes are to get an agreement.”
At least one Long Island Rail Road employee has gotten a good deal from the MTA recently.
With unionized LIRR workers readying for a possible strike next month, the Daily News has learned that the railroad’s former president, Helena Williams, who was fired two months ago, remains on the payroll under an arrangement designed to enhance the value of her pension.