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MTA Chairman: LIRR Unions Strategy is Risky

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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman says Long Island Rail Road unions are taking a big risk in assuming Congress will step in if they strike.

In an exclusive interview with Newsday, MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast says he thinks the unions expect Congress to step in after one or two days of strikes if contract negotiations between the MTA and eight LIRR unions fail.

He says that he's received indications that relying on Congress would be risky.

LIRR union negotiator Anthony Simon would not reveal whether the unions are counting on congressional support, but says he thinks the strategy is a good one.

The MTA is proposing the 17 percent raises for LIRR workers be spread over 7 years. It also wants new employees to pay higher pension and health care costs.

The details of the unions counter-proposal have not been released.

If a deal is not reached, the unions are poised to strike on July 20.

Negotiations are set to continue Tuesday.

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