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MTA, Transit Union Resume LIRR Contract Talks

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TWC News: MTA, Transit Union Resume LIRR Contract Talks
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Metropolitan transportation Authority officials and unions representing Long Island Rail Road workers are heading back to the bargaining table today.

MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast met with Congressman Peter King and other lawmakers in Washington yesterday.

He wanted to get a clear indication from members of the House delegation if they intended to get involved in the dispute.

Congress has the authority to impose a contract if there's a walkout, but lawmakers pledged to stay on the sidelines.

"We want everyone at the table, and for anyone to be looking to get a silver bullet from Congress, they'd be making a big mistake. This is ultimately a state responsibility, it should be resolved within the state and we're not going to be doing anything to interfere with the negotiating process whatsoever," King said.

"And so we wanted to send a very clear message to people. If they think Congress acting quickly after a strike to take action and order them back to work and impose a solution was something that they could pursue, the likelihood of that happening is exceptionally low," Prendergast said.

LIRR workers are threatening to strike in 10 days if a deal is not reached.

They have been on the job without a contract since 2010.

The MTA is offering a 17 percent wage increase over seven years, and is asking for concessions on health care and pensions.

But the union wants more.

A walkout would affect more than 300,000 daily riders.

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