Talks involving the Long Island Rail Road labor dispute broke down Monday and it now appears employees could be striking as soon as this weekend.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials and union representatives have so far failed to agree on a new contract.
Agency brass says the two sides are far apart and blame the union for not wanting to negotiate.
Calling it a "collapse," the unions are pointing the finger at MTA officials saying they refused their counter offer and are "provoking a strike."
No other talks are scheduled.
"The MTA has not come with a counter offer at all and is not moving. So, at this point, the unions are heading east and prepare their membership and their families for the unfortunate possibility of a strike," said United Transportation Union General Chairman Anthony Simon.
"There truly is a gulf. There is a long distance between the offer that we have up on the table and their willingness and ability to be able to respond to that and close this gap," said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast.
The MTA has proposed a 17 percent wage increase over seven years. Union leaders wanted six years.
The MTA also wanted workers to contribute to their healthcare costs for the first time, but the agency's head says the unions only offered a contribution of 15 one-hundredths of one percent.
A strike would impact commuters in Brooklyn and Queens, and cause heavy congestion on the city's subways, bridges, tunnels and major roadways.
"There is no way we could come up with a contingency plan that would be able to accommodate all the capacity in the same times as the railroad has," Prendergast said.
The MTA last week unveiled plans for how riders will get around.
The agency will have regular and shuttle buses, and tells riders to use subways when possible.
Park-and-Ride locations at CitiField and Aqueduct Race Track in Queens will help riders connect to the subway.
Mayor de Blasio expressed confidence in the MTA's plans—as he prepares to leave on a family vacation to Italy—this Friday.
"We're going to watch each development by definition . we have a plan for this trip but we're going to watch along the way and see how things develop," de Blasio said.
Three-hundred-thousand daily riders will be watching as well—hoping there's no replay of the last LIRR strike in 1994. That one ended after two days.
The strike deadline is midnight Sunday.
All of the travel options can be found at mta.info.
MTA Update on Contract Talks (Full Press Conference)
TWC News: LIRR Contract Talks "Collapse" as Strike Deadline Nears
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