The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has basically rejected the findings of two non-binding Presidential Emergency Boards that called for 17% raises over 6 years for Long Island Railroad workers. This has set the stage for a possible LIRR strike on Sunday.
The MTA, it seems, would more than likely accept these terms if the workers would agree to force employees not yet hired (the unborn) to agree to an inferior pension tier as well as higher costs for healthcare. Most new government employees in NYS have already been forced to settle for diminished retirement benefits (Tier VI).
My guess is the MTA is counting on workers not going on strike to protect yet to be hired union members. Management probably believes union members will sell out the unborn. However, if two sets of arbitrators appointed by the President agree to one set of numbers and the union doesn't get that money, then the union has essentially lost so they will rally members over that issue.
As for comparisons with what city teachers just settled for, clearly 17% over 6 years on the table for LIRR workers is substantially better than 18% over 9 years that the UFT agreed to in May. In addition, teachers already have the Tier 6 concession and the evaluation system givebacks so our contract terms are much worse than what arbitrators proposed for the LIRR employees.
I know, I know LIRR workers aren't covered under the Taylor Law that bans most strikes in NYS by government employees. We would suffer draconian penalties if we engaged in a job action. All the more reason why we should be fighting strongly to restore our basic human right to strike.
UPDATE THURSDAY: Strike Averted
It looks like the LIRR workers will get 17% over 6.5 years but they will have to make healthcare contributions and there is a lower pay scales for the yet to be hired. We will look at the specific details before we give a full analysis