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Cuomo Helps Broker Deal in LIRR Negotiations

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If Long Island Rail Road riders are pleased there's no strike, so is Governor Andrew Cuomo, as a labor dispute could have disrupted his hope for a re-election blowout. While the election is still three-and-a-half months away, the Democrat is going to have a more relaxing summer weekend with the labor dispute behind him. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.

You could say the leaders of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and unions looked shell-shocked.

The man who brought them together? He had a smile as wide as the Long Island Expressway.

"There could have been a lot more agita next week," said Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo was again the savior from possible transit strikes. Exactly three months ago, it was a deal with subway and bus workers. Now, it's the nation's busiest commuter railroad.

"Cuomo turned out to be the guy who knows how to get things done," said Mitchell Moss, who heads the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation.

Done. Perhaps, reluctantly. Last week, the governor said Congress should deal with it.
Congress punted.

On Tuesday, Cuomo didn't appear sympathetic.

"We've gone through other disasters," he said. "This is not a disaster. A real pain, maybe."

That changed Wednesday. A top aide said it became clear a strike was happening.

Of note, the LIRR serves areas that can make or break statewide elections.

On Wednesday, Cuomo worked the phones.

"I was too bleary-eyed to actually look at the watch, but it was late," he said.

There was still no handshake Thursday morning. Cuomo summoned both sides to his offices.

At a seafood restaurant, it was all tied up. The governor ordered the fish. No champagne yet. He still had to get the signature before the cameras.

Cuomo isn't only drawing praise for reaching a deal. The terms of the deal are also drawing notice. That's because for the first time, Long Island Rail Road employees will start to pay part of their health care costs.

Moss doesn't see union voters faulting Cuomo.

"There's now a widespread recognition that everyone has to pay a portion of their health care costs, even workers on the Long Island Rail Road," Moss said.

Republican nominee Rob Astorino said there are too many unanswered questions.

One city resident, though, is certainly pleased. Mayor Bill de Blasio can jet to an Italian vacation without a strike back home.

Ever the New York booster, Cuomo is rafting in the Adirondacks this weekend.

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