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Strike Worries Commuters

A potential Long Island Rail Road strike due to a contract disagreement between its union and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority could leave many commuters stranded at the Mineola Train Station next week. 

 

“I think it’s unfair to a lot of people,” said Bryan Jean-Pierre of Westbury as he waited for his train in Mineola. 

 

Jean-Pierre, a restaurant manager in New York City, said the strike would be a strain for him. He plans to carpool if the strike occurs. 

 

More than 5,400 LIRR employees are threatening to walk off their jobs as early as Sunday, July 20 if a deal is not reached. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he would not intercede, but MTA officials said to not expect help from Washington.

 

“I strongly believe that a resolution can be reached in a fiscally responsible manner,” MTA CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said in a letter to Congress.

 

However, union leaders argue that the LIRR has been without a contract since 2010.

 

“The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has demanded benefit cuts and other concessions from workers,” LIRR Union officials state in their own letter to Congress. “Union members ask for nothing more than what federal boards have already recommended.”

 

Michael Burnett, 39, of Glen Cove predicts a last-minute settlement of some kind.

 

“No way is the government going to let this happen,” he said. “New York would come to a standstill.”

 

Burnett uses the LIRR six days a week to commute to his job at the Cold Spring Country Club. He said he can’t afford alternative means of transportation. 

 

“I’d lose my job,” he said. “I don’t have any options.”

 

The strike would affect 300,000 weekday riders, and Burnett imagines that traffic would move at a “snail’s pace” if commuters were forced to drive or take the bus.

 

“The negative economic and human impact of a strike would be huge, and the only responsible option is to keep talking and working to reach an agreement which is fair and does not result in an added financial burden on riders,” said Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council Chair Mark Epstein.

 

Carol Catalano, of Carle Place, was ready to board the LIRR train in Mineola. She was headed to Penn Station to take an AMTRAK.   

 

“I don’t really use the LIRR much,” she said. “Anytime you rely on mass transportation it comes back to bite you,” she said.

 

But for commuters, the strike is more of an issue.

 

"I’m against it,” said commuter Al Tessier, who uses the station in Mineola to commute to his IT job. “I would have to drive and that would be a huge headache.”