(Recasts with talks to continue)
By Curtis Skinner
NEW YORK, July 16 The New York Metropolitan
Transportation Authority and unions representing 5,400 workers
on the Long Island Rail Road will continue talks to avert a
strike that may affect hundreds of thousands of commuters, both
sides said on Wednesday.
A strike would leave some 300,000 daily commuters from New
York City's suburbs on Long Island scrambling for alternative
"We will all be here and we will have communications back
and forth all night long. And we will resume face-to-face 10
a.m. tomorrow," Anthony Simon, spokesman for the eight-union
coalition, told reporters after about six hours of negotiations.
The MTA has offered a 17 percent pay raise over seven years,
limits to benefit contributions and continuing pension payments
for current employees. The MTA said unionized LIRR workers are
among the best-paid in the nation, making almost $90,000 a year.
A coalition of eight unions negotiating for workers have
balked at a requirement that future workers would have to make
steeper payments for their benefits, saying it would create an
unfair two-tier system among the LIRR's employees.
The two sides met in offices near Times Square on Wednesday
afternoon after talks broke down on Monday with a possible
strike set to begin at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.
(Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen in Mineola, New York
and Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Eric Walsh)